A cannabis grower that has raised the ire of its Whonnock neighbours will be allowed to expand.
After getting legal advice, the City of Maple Ridge announced it will issue a building permit to Tantalus Labs for an approximately 50,000 square foot expansion of their cannabis greenhouse growing facility in east Maple Ridge.
“City council, like the neighbourhood, is frustrated by the implications of an expansion of this facility, but we are bound by the existing legislative framework and decisions of senior government,” said Mayor Mike Morden in a press release Friday.
“Unfortunately, we have no legal authority to stop the expansion or implement conditions to mitigate impacts on residents because the operation is a permitted farm use and sits within the Agricultural Land Reserve. Our hope is that as part of the expansion work, Tantalus Labs will be a responsible neighbour and take action to fully address residents’ concerns.”
Tantalus CEO Dan Sutton said last week that city hall has held up his company’s expansion plans by not issuing the permit, and said they had no legal authority to do so.
Sutton said the city helped the company select its current site in 2013, and knew of its plans to expand its greenhouse operations from 75,000 to 120,000 square feet of growing space.
He also said blinds to stop light pollution will be added to the operation in the next phase of building. Also, the company has a bio filtration system to reduce odours which was developed for U.S.-based hog farms, and exceeds Health Canada’s odour control regulations for cannabis growers, said Sutton.
On April 2, former public works manager Frank Quinn advised council about neighbour complaints of light, noise and odours from the greenhouses, and council determined to get a legal opinion before allowing expansion.
Tantalus neighbour Paul Doyle recently told The News about his negative experiences with the operation.
“We deal with odour light and noise pollution on a ongoing basis as well as the worry of our aquifer running out of water,” he said. “It was stinking of cannabis odours many times the last few days. We smell it most days and some days its many times a day depending on winds and what stage of growth the plants are in.”
He bought his property, which has a common fence with Tantalus, while the operation was under construction, and said he now regrets locating there, said Doyle.
“The growth of the cannabis industry is still in its infancy and it will take a number of years to fully assess and address the community impacts around growing, harvesting, processing and the sale of cannabis and related products,” said Morden. “In the meantime, this experience has demonstrated that communities need to have additional tools to address concerns that may be registered by residents, regardless of whether a development exists on or off the Agricultural Land Reserve.”
He said council is looking for opportunities to work with the BC Farm Industry Review Board, the Agricultural Land Commission and Metro Vancouver to address residents concerns.
The city recommends citizens being impacted by odour, light and other concerns file a complaint with the BC Farm Industry Review Board. They can citizens can file a complaint at the BCFIRB website.