Williams Lake city council is launching an online survey to gain feedback about the Williams Lake Indian Band cannabis farm to gate facility planned for construction on First Nations land within city limits.
The survey, which will be made available on Monday, June 22 for 30 days, was approved by city council at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 16.
Mayor Walt Cobb said during the meeting council has no information on how much the facility will cost the City in terms of infrastructure, such as road maintenance, sidewalks, curbs if needed, storm drainage and what the City will end up being responsible for.
“These are answers that are going to affect our community,” Cobb said. “It’s a neat project, a great idea, but we need answers.”
Cobb also listed concerns about access and egress, fire protection, site grading, runoff, water usage, gas and hydro lines and sanitary sewer drainage.
Repeatedly Cobb and other members of council have insisted there be a public engagement process about the cannabis facility because that is how all proposed developments are dealt with in the City.
The Williams Lake Indian Band, however, has responded consistently that municipal laws don’t apply on First Nations lands.
WLIB Chief Willie Sellars also reminded council that the City made a 60-year agreement with the band in 1994 that it would supply water and sewer services to the First Nations land in exchange for a sewer right of way.
During the council meeting, Coun. Scott Nelson said under the Canadian Charter section 83, the City has the right to go out and consult with the community.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure our community is looked after,” he said. “The City has asked a lot of questions and hasn’t got many answers.”
Coun. Jason Ryll invited the WLIB to be part of the consultation process and help find the answers that city council and the public have.
“I compel them, I’m asking them to get involved,” Ryll said. “It’s your land, you can do with it what you want, but help us fight for this deal to make it happen. We want to be advocates for this deal, we believe in the concept of the project.”
Coun. Marnie Brenner encouraged community members of Williams Lake not to sit back, but be engaged and do their research.
“Have your say,” she said. “The City of Williams Lake is all for it, but having that engagement is part of the process. It’s what we do. It’s required.”
Nelson chimed in again during the round table at the end of the meeting, asking if WLIB should not have to pay ‘absolutely’ anything inside the City of Williams Lake for any services?
“At the end of the day that’s what we will be looking at,” Nelson said. “The key is for you to tell your elected officials if you support that and if you don’t council has a few tricks up its sleeve as well.”
In a power point presentation to the City several weeks ago, WLIB described the project as a micro cultivation facility that will be capped at 2,150 square feet of growing space within its 6,000 square feet building. The band said there will be no odour and no toxic chemicals used and it will be the first of its kind in B.C.
A ground-breaking ceremony is planned for the cannabis facility at 1145 Mackenzie Ave. South on June 22, the same day the City’s online survey will be made available.