Cities worry that marijuana producers that set up in industrial areas will get farm tax status in order to dramatically reduce their property tax bills.

Cities worry that marijuana producers that set up in industrial areas will get farm tax status in order to dramatically reduce their property tax bills.

Cities fret over tax, farmland hit from medical pot

Marijuana boom sticks in craw of Metro Vancouver politicians

Metro Vancouver politicians are increasingly worried their cities will receive less in property tax if big medical marijuana producers set up shop on industrial land and then convert the property to farm tax status.

In one example outlined in a Metro staff report, a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial business park in Richmond that pays $33,500 in taxes to the city would pay just $395 – a 99 per cent reduction – if a new pot producer moves in and secures farm status.

B.C. Assessment has already ruled medical marijuana to be a qualifying agricultural use for the lower farm tax rate because it’s classified as “medicinal plant culture.”

“It’s a pretty dangerous precedent we’re looking at here,” Richmond Coun. Harold Steves told Metro’s regional planning committee June 6.

The issue has left cities weighing whether to allow pot to be grown on farmland to avoid erosion of their industrial tax base.

That scenario also concerns Steves, who said nobody wants to see “some big grey concrete box that looks like a D-Day bunker” erected in the midst of productive farmland, reducing the capacity to grow food crops.

“If this is about bunkers with barbed wire fences around them, it should be in industrial areas,” said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

He said it’s unfair to local cities that they may lose out while the federal and provincial governments stand poised to earn more tax revenue as medical marijuana becomes a commercial industry.

“Why should municipalities subsidize the growing of marijuana through agricultural zoning and taxes while other orders of government make significant amounts of taxation?” Corrigan asked.

New pot plantations will be “fraught with issues” and bear very little resemblance to conventional agriculture, he predicted.

“Eventually these grow into winery-style businesses where there’s ancilliary uses, tasting labs and all sorts of fallout as a result of it.”

The Agricultural Land Commission has already ruled medical marijuana can be grown on farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Health Canada has so far issued 13 licences for commercial producers of medical pot, which were supposed to become the only legal suppliers as of April 1.

But a court injunction granted in March allows previously authorized medical marijuana home growers to continue pending a decision on a constitutional challenge in the Federal Court of Canada.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

The Rotary Club of South Surrey is planning to host another shredding event on April 17, 2021.(Contributed file photo)
South Surrey Rotarians to host shredding event

April 17 fundraiser to offer secure shredding by donation

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Most Read