Tuesday, October 29, 2013

City Tax Base 'Up In Smoke'?

What Were They Smokin'?

The most recent episode of 'Doing Business - The Nanaimo Way' was witnessed at the city council meeting of Oct. 28 which saw Lafitte Ventures Ltd. seeking to rezone an industrial lot at Duke Point from light industrial to industrial.

The purpose of the rezoning application was to allow the applicant to proceed with building renovations which would allow the site to become Nanaimo's first medical marihuana grow operation. (Long time Nanaimo residents know this is not really the first grow op in town).

Tax Revenue --- Up In Smoke!

You have to pay close attention, as this little comedy gets rather complicated. Sometime ago, Nanaimo decided to open the door to allow legal pot grow ops. In order to accommodate this new industry staff decided to allow these operations on land zoned I4 (Industrial). They would not be allowed on I2 (light industrial) for some reason.

Along comes an entrepreneur and proceeds to attempt to establish Nanaimo's first legal grow-op. First mistake they made was making an offer, or buying a property at 1100 Maughan Road out in industrial park without making sure it had the needed I4 zoning in place.

The applicant has applied to the city to rezone this lot to the needed I4 category which is the zoning already applied to 1080 Maughan Road, which is a lot about the same size as 1100 Maughan Road.

Now For the Problem

It seems that the BC Asessment authority sees the production of marihuana as an agricultural use and would assess this business in the farm category. This of course would mean all those high tax revenues would go up in smoke if this were classed as a farming operation rather than an industrial operation.

I would hope our planning department would have looked into this little detail before proceeding with allowing pot grow ops on any tax revenue producing industrial property. If this business had found a suitable property already zoned I4, they would not need a rezoning but could have proceeded with their business and the loss of tax revenue would have happened with reclassification to agriculture.

As it stands the city is still open to this possibility as long as grow ops are allowed on I4 land.

In the meantime Lafitte Ventures are possibly just wasting more time and money hoping the city will rezone this land, which is highly unlikely if it means they will be setting a match to taxes that would come from a property with an assessed value of $3,527,300.

This business claims they would spend $1.5 million on renovations and when operational provide 30 - 40 full time jobs. They say that if a legal mechanism can be found to forgo having the land assessed as agricultural they would be willing to agree.

I don't know if there is any truth to the rumor that the planning department has been ordering lots of extra munchies these days.


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