Say no to the Green Amber non-farm use application on ALR land on Shafer road.
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Firstly please understand my concerns have nothing to do with the product I am actually 100% in favor of de-criminalization of cannabis not legalization.
Like most other rural residents in British Columbia I too have concerns for projects like the Green Amber project being planned at the Shafer road location as this project is being constructed on ALR land and ALR land is, and should remain, a valued public concern. The ALR was established by the British Columbia government in 1973. It was intended to permanently protect valuable agricultural land that has among the most fertile soil in the country from being lost. Despite having been in existence for over 40 years, however, the ALR continues to be threatened by urbanization and the land development industry. This land was preserved not only for this generation to grow and produce food but for future generations to do the same as well. I believe the Green Amber project falls outside of the spirit of the ALR project as this company is a pharmaceutical company producing a legislated medicinal drug in an industrial complex and not a farmer producing food on a farm.
The True Leaf company, which has been operating in Vernon for years has also purchased land for their new operation. This company however, with their respect for the people of Lumby and the land around it have purchased their land in the industrial area of Lumby and have planned and constructed their facility with openness, honesty and within the rules and regulations set out by the district. I applaud them for their ethical veracity.
Green Amber has come to Lumby with the promise of jobs and economic benefits but make no mistake their intent is profit. I believe this group has chosen our province solely to take advantage of the ALR loophole and procure cheap land and labour. Why else would a group of people from Toronto Ontario (where land is expensive) locate a 12 million-dollar project so far away from home? Why not purchase land in Lumby or Vernon or any other town or city with an industrial area? The answer is, because that land would cost them 5 to 10 times what they paid for the ALR land and taxes would be much higher as well. This would cut into the millions of dollars in profit they will make.
This company intends to build a 108,000 sqft complex the size of a Wal-Mart supercenter just 50 feet from the small farmhouse their neighbors have lived in for thirty five years. Four 20,000 sqft steel and tin buildings with HVAC and power generation etc for growing and another for offices and administration as well as concrete parking lots and shipping receiving areas. The ALC has regulated that cannabis operations must not pour concrete over the valuable land that they build on but grow on that land. This company is already contesting that and is applying for a non-farm use permit on ALR land so they can pour 108,000 sqft of concrete for floors in the buildings. How will 108,000 square feet of concrete poured over this soil ensure that land is usable for future generations to farm? How will any farmer be able to use this land in the future? With five steel and tin industrial type buildings smack in the middle of it who would be able to use this land for farming without tearing it all down at a giant cost?
Green Amber is a private company and as such is privately funded, which brings the question “is this project fully funded to start-up?”. Will they be able to finish all construction or is there a possibility that this land could be partially developed and then moth-balled? Leaving an eyesore on the shores of the beautiful Shuswap river at the gateway to the Monashee mountains. Also there is currently much uncertainty in this new industry, other public company shares are falling, the government is still not 100% on their legislation and will review it again in four years or a new government may change it up all-together. There is a huge possibility that this company could fail and again leave an unusable eyesore in our beautiful neighborhood a situation similar to the Lavington glass factory.
All this being said we also must consider the new traffic that will be going through the small one lane road. Currently 8 homes and farms share this road with 13 children using it daily. 30 part time employees will travel to and from the site daily. They must have garbage pick up, septic removal, supply deliveries, deliveries from other producers for processing, product transport, site visitors for inspections etc. All of this traffic will be new to the area. We must consider the noise from daily operations and power generation when the power goes out, as it does every so often in our area. Industrial lighting at night to secure the facility will bleed though to the surrounding properties disturbing the current residents. Three plus million liters of water a year will be removed from our water table, which is already low, I know my well has been low before as I’m sure many others have as well.
Two years ago a gentleman knocked on my door and introduced himself as the new owner of the property next to mine. He stated that he was going to log the land, sub-divide it into two pieces and set them up for sale as small horse ranches or farms. We were sad to see the forest go but did not mind the idea of this type of operation at all. The reality is that the largest part of the land will be industrialized, taken out of the intended purpose of the ALR and eventually be left an eyesore. Neighbors selling a property on one side have already lost two offers on their property and the agent has advised them to lower their price $100,000. The reason being their front view looks out directly over this property. This project not only negatively impacts the ALR and the environment but it will change the current pattern of development and existing character of the area. Our regional growth strategy should support the town of Lumby as the primary growth area for the community due to its existing community infrastructure, services and economic and employment opportunities. The directors of the RDNO have an important task in front of them that can not be taken lightly. Economic development can not simply be based on relaxing bylaws and allowing any type or size of industrial facility be built on any rural land in areas D and E. If that is allowed then the gateway to the Monashees will most definitely become an industrial wasteland littered with dilapidated buildings and failed facilities of companies attracted to the area by cheap land, low taxes and cheap labour. Sound economic development requires sound planning and consideration by experienced individuals working along side of the citizens who voted for them.
Here is the link for the RDNO directors contact information if you would like to phone or email them directly.
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