Governments pass the buck on marijuana smell

The smell of the marijuana operation owned by Canopy Growth continues to plague area residents, while the government departments that are residents say should be offering help continue to pass the buck.

About 38 Aldergrove residents gathered on Wednesday evening (June 4) at a home that is literally a golf shot away from the 30-acre marijuana operation.

“None of the people here today seem to have a problem with marijuana legalization and whether its a good idea. That isnn’t even an issue here,” said Doug Bileski, one of the group’s organizers.

“We’re here because the cultivation that was made possible by legalization has made our lives miserable.”

The problem continues to be the vile odour emanating from the extensive greenhouse operation owned by Canopy Growth.

The company bought up what was once a pepper farm and has planted some 200,000 marijuana plants in the facility.

Unfortunately for the farm’s neighbours, marijuana stinks.

“It has the smell of rotting meat, ” said Susan Hagedorn, who lives a few blocks from the farm.

“You go outside and you have to catch your breath. It gets into your clothes, into your car, everywhere. It’s enough to make you gag.”

Bileski pointed out that no one seems prepared to stand up for the residents and help to address the issue.

“Somebody should be able to do something. Who is it?” he ask Who’s going to finally stand up and do something about this?”

In an effort to answer that question Black Press reached out to the Government of Canada.

While no one representing the Agriculture or Health Departments were willing to be interviewed, Patrick Gerard, Senior Media Relations Officer, wrote us saying:

“Have you followed up with the municipal/regional government there? I checked with my counterparts at Health Canada and they suggested this would be the jurisdiction of the municipal/regional government.”

When it was pointed out that there are regulations in place for medical marijuana that call for air filtration for medical marijuana operations, we received no response.

The Provincial Government was far more detailed in their response. While also declining an interview on the issue they wrote:

“Medical cannabis operations are Federally-licensed under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

The federal government has requirements for growers through the Regulations including (Subdivision C, 61): ‘Those areas must be equipped with a system that filters air to prevent the escape of odours and, if present, pollen.’

The federal ‘Building and Production Security Requirements for Marijuana for Medical Purposes.’ also states:

‘To assist in the prevention of the escape of pollen, odours, and other particles, all exhaust air from your cultivation area and other areas within your site where cannabis is present can be filtered through appropriate air filtration systems. For example, a high-efficiency particle air filter such as a H13 HEPA filter can ensure appropriate ventilation and filtration of exhaust air.’

Provincial spokesperson Dave Townsend, also suggested that those “Aggrieved by a noise or other disturbance resulting from farm practice may also file a formal complaint with the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board.

The latter suggestion comes in response to the secondary issue facing area residents, namely, the roar of misting cannons that have been installed around the perimeter of the farm, ostensibly to solve the odour problems by spraying a concoction of “essential oils” into the air to capture the smell of the marijuana cultivation.

“Those misting cannons have done nothing,” said Driese. “Now you smell a combination of rotting meat and a pungent chemical smell. The company told us that this was a solution that worked for the marijuana operation at Niagara-on-the-Lake, but we know that isn’t true.”

Black Press reached out to the neighbours of the Tweed operation at Niagara-on-the-Lake and found that Driese was accurate in saying that the misting cannons had not solved the problem there.

“We can still smell it. I work indoors most of the time, but I’ve had a lot of people who work outdoors tell me it’s pretty bad,” said Amelia Keating, the operations manager at Five Rows Craft Wine-Lowrey, a winery located a short distance from the marijuana operation at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“All the various levels of government want to do is point at each other and say that someone else has the authority here. It seems that they rushed willy-nilly into this thing and now no one knows who’s responsible for the fall-out,” said Hagedorn.

“We went to the Langley Township Council and they agreed to send a letter to the province, but we know that they have to consider the property tax revenue and employment being generated by the operation, so I’m not sure we have much hope there either. No one…not one of our elected officials at any level of government wants to deal with this and meanwhile, we cant go outside without gagging.”

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