BC court rules Richmond unfairly denied application for cannabis greenhouse on ALR

| David Brown

A judge in BC says the City of Richmond must issue a building permit to a cannabis company after a city inspector unreasonably denied it in 2019.

The decision comes after a petition to the court filed by the applicant late last year, who contended that her application was unfairly dismissed in violation of the province’s cannabis rules on land designated under the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The applicant, Linda English, applied for a building permit with the city on May 6, 2019 for a property located at 13751 Garden City Road, Richmond, BC to build a soil-based greenhouse. The property is in BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

At the time of filing the application, all forms of cannabis cultivation were allowed in the ALR.

On September 30, 2019, the Director of building approval for Richmond refused Ms. English’s application for a building permit, citing city bylaw 8500 that did not allow the cultivation of non-medical cannabis inside structures constructed after July 13, 2018. 

However, BC’s ALR rules as of July 13, 2018 specifically allowed cannabis production if produced outdoors or inside a structure that has a base consisting entirely of soil, or was constructed or under construction prior to that date. 

The 2019 ALR Regulations also included language that said municipalities could not ban these activities specifically allowed in the ALR.

The city says that the building inspector’s decision was based on his interpretation of the Zoning Bylaw, Building Bylaw, and s. 8 of the 2019 ALR Regulation. The applicant, Ms English, contended that the city had unfairly denied their application by misinterpretation or misrepresenting these ALR rules. 

The judge agreed, declaring that the City of Richmond unreasonably cancelled the building permit application, issued an order quashing the decision of the building inspector, and ordered the city to issue the applicant a building permit.