Neighbours concerned about cannabis plant planned near Port Alberni

WatchNeighbours are growing worried about a large scale cannabis farm proposed for the Sproat Lake area near Port Alberni.

Anne Marie Smit thought she’d found a piece of heaven when she bought her Sproat Lake dream home in June.

Yet instead of enjoying the calm waters, she and her neighbours are fighting to stop a massive cannabis operation from moving in just over a kilometre from the water’s edge.

“It blows my mind that it would even be considered,” said Smit.

The proposal by Wild Coast Canna is to build a cannabis campus on an over 40-acre plot of farm/industrial land off Central Lake Road in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

It would include a 200,000 square foot indoor facility and 40 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation that would employ up to 300 people once complete.

“This is the largest scale facility that we’ve seen proposed for this region for sure,” said Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District Planner Alex Dyer.

Some locals say the potential for new jobs is very appealing.

“I just think of the jobs that could benefit this town right,” said Sproat Lake resident Terri Fleming.

“Because there’s not much going on right now.”

But others worry about the potential for strong smells from the cannabis farm and environmental impact of water leaching into the lake.  So several residents, who are also professional geologists evaluated the proposal and concluded runoff could damage the lake’s water quality and create a massive algae bloom.

“People won’t come camping, fishing, tourists will not come here,” said Smit.

” It will not only impact the lake it will impact the whole town.”

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is holding a public hearing on Nov. 19 to discuss cannabis facilities moving into the agricultural land filled region.

Planner Alex Dyer said the province won’t allow regional districts to stop outdoor cannabis farming like the proposed one at Sproat Lake, but indoor facilities can be more tightly controlled on the local level.

“What we’re trying to do is find a balance that looks after the community, looks after the environment,” said Dyer.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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