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Cannabis Collective asks council for support of cultivation industry within city limits

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
June 12th, 2019

An industry that has been the backbone of the region’s economy for years but has been forced to operate in the shadows now has some municipal acknowledgement.

The Nelson Cannabis Collective had requested Monday night at City Hall during the regular meeting of council that the city provide a letter of support with regard to local cannabis cultivation.

The letter was intended as an acknowledgement by the city — in a non-binding fashion — of the cannabis industry as an emerging market, as well as a commitment by municipal government to work with the industry.

In addition to the collective, many local community members “have recently expressed that they would like the city to do more to support” what has been one of the major industries in the region for some time.

The request met some initial resistance on council as it was viewed as a particular business seeking special favour from City Hall, something which few elected municipal bodies will adhere to, including Nelson’s.

Coun. Janice Morrison, who has served several terms on council, felt that writing such a letter could be a slippery slope.

“I’ve not, in my many years on council, written a letter of support for any type of business,” she said, speaking first on the motion. “It’s something I don’t want to see the city going down the road of supporting businesses.”

City manager Kevin Cormack said the request was not a support of a particular business, but more of a declaration the city will be willing to move past current zoning bylaws in Nelson which prohibit the cultivation of cannabis.

“This isn’t meant to support a particular business. It’s meant to show council is open to a re-zone in case someone wants to do a cultivation of cannabis,” he said. 

The Nelson Cannabis Collective is pursuing development of an “inaugural facility” at 45 Government Road, a structure which could house three micro-cultivation production units. 

“Although the city will not express support or opposition to that particular project at this time, it has been asked to express support for local cultivation of cannabis generally,” noted a city staff report to city council.

Morrison was not against cannabis cultivation, she iterated.

“But I think the regional district is a better area for the cultivation of cannabis,” she said.

The idea of cannabis cultivation and how it will evolve — both as an industry and in its technology — could be of benefit to a city, noted Coun. Rik Logtenberg.

He felt the cultivation industry could evolve like the craft brewery industry has in Nelson, and add another facet to the economy.

Coun. Jesse Woodward agreed. He said it might appear that the city was “hand holding” the industry with the issuance of a letter of support, but cannabis cultivation was “coming out of prohibition so it’s a bit of a delicate time.

“As we go forward I think it can be an excellent micro-industry within Nelson,” he said. “It’s been part of this world for a long time and I think it’s just coming above board now.”

The motion for the city to provide a letter of support to the Nelson Cannabis Collective — indicating that it supports the cultivation of cannabis within city limits — was passed.

The support letter …

A draft of the letter of support was presented to city council Monday night:

“The City of Nelson promotes regulated and safe practices in the legal cultivation of cannabis and is committed to proactively establishing policies that ensure the well-being of the community.

“This emerging market presents opportunities for economic development within our community including building capacity for sustainable and legal cannabis production, farming, clean agriculture, rural economic development, job creation and entrepreneurship. Many subsidiary companies stand to benefit from this new economy.

“The City of Nelson will continue to be a leader in innovation and to work with a variety of industries to create a strong and healthy community for businesses and residents alike.”

— Source: City of Nelson

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