After two years of homeowners near a Canopy Growth facility in Aldergrove shutting their doors and windows due to a persistent odour, there is now a cause for celebration.
The company announced on March 4 the closure of two of its sprawling greenhouse marijuana grow operations in the Lower Mainland – one being its 1.3-million-square-foot facility in Aldergrove.
May Leeper, who lives near 264th Street and 4th Avenue, was cautiously optimistic about the news that the 30-acre marijuana growing facility near her home will close.
“They’re not done yet,” Leeper said, noting it’s likely a skeleton staff harvesting the company’s leftover cannabis crop – several of whom were seen circulating the site by an Aldergrove Star journalist Monday morning.
Canopy CEO David Klein said its decision to downsize “was not taken lightly” and comes in light of slows in Canada’s recreational cannabis market as well as new federal regulations permitting outdoor cultivation – pushing Canopy Growth to focus on more cost-effective, outdoor production sites.
The company said more than 200 Canadian and foreign employees lost their jobs from the closure.
“I feel bad for the employees hired through the [government’s] Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” Leeper said.
“Many of them are legally committed to one company, and if that company goes under, they are totally lost.”
Now that Canopy Growth is on its way out of rural Aldergrove, Leeper’s biggest worry is that its greenhouses will be sold to another cannabis grower.
Since the former vegetable hothouses were adapted for cannabis production in February of 2018, Leeper and dozens of others lodged complaints against the Canopy Growth operation – for its distinctive odour, noise, and light.
Leeper described the noise as an “unbearable” round-the-clock “droning” sound that can be heard with the windows closed, both day and night.
She and more than 20 of her neighbours complained to the company.
In a letter to Leeper and other nearby residents, Canopy said their employees conduct regular noise checks and that it has adopted the Township of Langley’s noise control bylaw standard.
Nearby homeowner Roberta Diamond was elated when she found out there might be hope for her persistent cough, which developed after Canopy started cannabis production in Aldergrove.
Mornings and afternoons, Diamond treks around her five-acre property to care for horses.
“When I go outside I start coughing immediately,” Diamond explained. “I would be out for 45 minutes each time and have to come inside because my throat and nose burned.”
“My neighbour even developed the same cough,” she added.
When the issue of the smell from the Aldergrove facility first arose, a spokesman for the company acknowledged it “need[ed] to find a solution.”
This included installing equipment that releases a fine, scented mist dispersed by high powered fans. which people in the neighbourhood have said was not effective in tackling the pungent odour.
Leeper said odour still lingered in the air by Monday afternoon, making her reluctant to reopen the windows of her rural South Langley home.
At their behest, Langley East MLA Rich Coleman, together with Delta South MLA Ian Paton, called for a federal crackdown, saying smelly marijuana greenhouses must either fix the problem or be shut down.
In a joint letter sent last summer to federal Attorney General David Lametti and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas, the two Liberal MLAs argued that greenhouse operators who grow marijuana must do more to control their odour emissions.
The letter listed four locations, “in need of immediate enforcement,” including Canopy Growth’s Aldergrove and Delta facilities, both of which are now closed.