The prospect of Central Saanich farmland being covered with cannabis greenhouses has mobilized a group of citizens who are fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Similar battles are being waged across the province as the B.C. government considers whether to continue treating cannabis as a crop or to banish it from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
A group called Citizens Protecting Agricultural Land has collected 1,400 signatures from people wanting marijuana-grow operations banned from protected farmland.
Adam Olsen, Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, presented the petition in the legislature on Thursday.
“We’re not against marijuana, we’re against cannabis factories on agricultural land,” said Ken Marriette, the group’s spokesman.
The group is made up of residents living in the Martindale Valley in Central Saanich, but signatures were collected from across the province.
“This tranquil farming community should not be used for this type of large-scale production,” Marriette said.
The petition is largely in response to a proposal by Evergreen Medicinal Supply, a Health Canada-licensed grower, to build 21 high-security, glass and metal greenhouses on the Stanhope Dairy Farm, which is owned by the Rendle family.
Shawn Galbraith, Evergreen’s CEO, is in the process of purchasing the 98-acre farm, which sits between Lochside Drive and Old East Road.
“This is farmland. We are about to embark on an agricultural business,” Galbraith told the Times Colonist during a recent visit to the proposed site. “We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact on people who live here.”