Len Lyons, left, and Reg Cocks stand on the corner of a house under construction along Great Central Lake Road. The hills in the distance are the site of a proposed cannabis industrial park that would see both indoor and outdoor cannabis growing facilities. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni group wants to snuff massive industrial cannabis project

Wild Coast Canna proposing 377,000-square-f00t indoor operation and 50 acres of outdoor cultivation

A group of Alberni Valley residents are rallying against a huge industrial cannabis production plant proposed near Sproat Lake and its implications for their neighbourhood.

The group hosted a public meeting Wednesday to share concerns and plan strategy in the wake of Wild Coast Canna unveiling plans for an industrial ‘cannabis campus’ on rural property between Airport Road and Great Central Lake Road. The original plans called for a 200,000-square-foot enclosed building plus 50 acres of outdoor cannabis production.

RELATED: Cannabis ‘campus’ planned for Alberni Valley

Residents who live along Great Central Lake Road complained that the proposed property—formerly known as Pine Dell Farm—is 500 metres away from Sproat Lake Provincial Park’s upper campground, and right next to a lot where a family with young children are building a home. There are other residents who live close to the proposed cannabis plant too.

“We’re opposing large-scale cannabis projects in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District,” said Reg Cocks, who has lived at Sproat Lake for the past 30 years.

Residents driving the issue have examined similar bylaws around cannabis use and cannabis production facilities in the Comox Valley Regional District, City of Nanaimo and Kelowna. One of the reasons they say companies are attracted to the Alberni Valley is because the rules here are more lenient.

“My feeling is the (Alberni Clayoquot Regional District) has dropped the ball on this. They’re not representing the people,” Cocks said.

Residents are worried about water sources, smell from both the indoor and outdoor production facilities and health ramifications. Cocks said the group wants the authorities to establish rules that would see any such production done in an industrial area—not near residential neighbourhoods or tourism areas.

RELATED: Alberni Valley residents pan pot proposal for ALR

This is the second industrial cannabis proposal the regional district has dealt with: another company proposed earlier this year building an indoor facility on Beaver Creek Road. That proposal is still under discussion.

Wild Coast Canna has changed the estimated size of its building to 377,000 square feet of indoor operations and 50 acres of outdoor cultivation, according to its website.

When asked if Wild Coast Canna was invited to the public meeting, Cocks and others said the company had not returned any of their phone calls so they weren’t able to ask.

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