Production room at MediJean's medical marijuana research facility in Richmond.

Production room at MediJean's medical marijuana research facility in Richmond.

Cities wary of medical marijuana property tax pitfall

Pot producers on industrial land may win farm tax status: Mayor

The strategy of several Lower Mainland cities to steer new medical marijuana growers to industrial areas may backfire, one mayor fears, opening up a property tax dodge for pot producers to exploit.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said the Agricultural Land Commission has deemed medical marijuana to be an agricultural crop and there are early indications that an operation in an industrial area may be able to persuade the B.C. Assessment Authority to apply the farm tax rate, rather than the much higher industrial tax rate.

That might mean a $1-million parcel of industrial land that might normally generate around $110,000 a year in property tax might instead pay just $25,000 if it hosts a pot farm – blowing a hole in municipal budgets.

“There’s potential there for lost revenues,” said Daykin, who raised the issue March 7 at Metro Vancouver’s regional planning committee and asked staff to investigate further.

“The last thing that any of us want is to have millions of dollars of industrial assessment all of a sudden devalued if it becomes assessed at the agricultural rate.”

Cities have been busy passing bylaws to control where and how new medical marijuana producers will be allowed to set up shop.

It’s part of the federal government’s move to outlaw home growing of medical pot as of April 1 in favour of large scale commercial production, which is to be tightly regulated.

While some cities have sought to ban commercial pot growing entirely, several others are limiting it to industrial land only, so the facilities aren’t built on productive farmland.

If his hunch is right, Daykin said, municipalities may be better off, at least financially, if they follow Maple Ridge’s path and require new marijuana operations instead go on agricultural land.

Richmond has a medical marijuana research facility on industrial land that’s now seeking a commercial production production licence, but Coun. Harold Steves said operator MediJean agreed not to convert the property to farm tax assessment.

“We’ve banned it going onto farmland because we don’t want factories on farmland,” Steves said. “These are not farms, they’re not even greenhouses and they should pay industrial taxes.”

The longtime agricultural land defender said he’s concerned that putting high-tech pot farms on agricultural land could be a precedent letting pharmaceutical firms – whose products often also originate from plants – also set up on farmland.

“If you allowed the marijuana research facilities to go on farmland why not Pfizer and Bayer and all the others?” Steves asked. “We’d have all these medical factories on farmland paying farm taxes. And it opens up a huge question as to the viability of agriculture for farming.”

Just Posted

water
City begins community engagement for Mission Waterfront Revitalization Master Plan

Wants the community’s input to bring to life the vision outlined in the Official Community Plan

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

web
Father’s Day Parade planned for Mission

Classic vehicles from the 1920s to the 1970s will drive through Mission, Hatzic on June 20

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Most Read