Medical grow-op must close: council
The owner of a Coquitlam industrial site has ordered her tenants to stop growing medical marijuana.
On Monday, council unanimously turned down Melanie Balletta's request for a temporary use permit at 970 Adair Ave. as the Maillardville property isn't in the city's special M3 zone to grow pot.
Balletta, who has owned the land since 2002, told The Tri-City News Tuesday she leased the space to the designated growers in 2012, five months before council adopted the special M3 zone for growers.
City officials have been in discussion with Balletta about the non-conforming use for about a year and suggested she apply for the permit, which would expire March 31 when federal rules for growers change.
At Monday's council-in-committee, the tenants' lawyer John Conroy — an Abbotsford lawyer involved in a national class-action suit against Health Canada that is seeking to have changes to the new medical marijuana laws declared unconstitutional — said the grow op meets electrical standards and is safe.
He also said his clients have tried to find space in the M3 zone to grow for their four patients but nothing is available. The city has five properties in the special M3 zone, all away from residences.
Conroy told council-in-committee the growers were wrong for not taking out a city business licence and they are prepared to pay any municipal fines. Conroy also said the growers want to avoid litigation.
On Monday night, council made no comment as it denied the permit application. A city spokesperson said the site will be checked later this week for compliance. "If our inspectors find the property to still be used contrary to any city bylaws, then tickets may be issued," she wrote in an email to The News.
Balletta said she's now looking for new tenants who will fit the M1 zone.