North Saanich has backed off plans to speak with a local company in the cannabis industry about making a financial contribution to agencies dealing with substance abuse and addiction.
Council tabled, then rescinded a motion directing “staff to request that [Rushco Properties] consider making a financial contribution to agencies working in the field of those affected by substance abuse and addiction as part of the application.”
Councillors had narrowly approved this wording in early December, when the company had first presented its plans to convert a former poultry farm into a cannabis cultivation facility. The company does not plan to grow pot itself. It instead plans to lease the facility to pot growers.
Coun. Jack McClintock had first proposed the idea of a financial contribution as part of a broader critique of the cannabis industry. A former cop, McClintock had questioned whether the proposal is consistent with North Saanich’s strategic plan calling for a “safe and healthy community.” The harmful effects of marijuana are well-known, he said at the time, citing his experience of more than three decades in policing.
While McClintock did not soften this larger critique, he said the specific motion itself was not appropriate at this time, saying later that he would not able to vote for it as written.
“The intention of my argument [Dec. 9] was in the industry in general, more broader than this particular applicant,” he said. He added that he did not want this motion to single out a business, adding that North Saanich can continue to make its case on the issue through regional and provincial municipal organizations.
McClintock received some support from Coun. Celia Stock, who had earlier voted against the motion during committee of the whole.
“It is true that, as a whole, the cannabis industry has not stepped forward, but then on many accounts, neither have any of the many industries that produce products that result in addiction and harm in some kind,” she said. “On a national level, I concur with Coun. McClintock’s view.” This said, she reiterated her argument that it is not within North Saanich’s responsibility.
Coun. Murray Weisenberger also questioned the optics.
“If we looked at this as some kind of land development application, it would almost be like asking for a bribe,” he said. “I think it is a poor way to go.”
Weisenberger had also earlier pointed that taxes paid on various substances help to pay for the sort of services that
Mayor Geoff Orr said the discussion offered council a chance to think about these issues.
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