Whonnock residents protest Tantalus Labs in 2015. News files

Whonnock residents protest Tantalus Labs in 2015. News files

Grow-op has been lighting up Maple Ridge’s rural skies

Tantalus says they are installing blinds, as neighbours complain

The light from the Tantalus Labs medical marijuana grow-op is causing a glow in the sky and bothering the neighbours.

“It’s very bright at night,” said Susan Schell Johnson, who has sent a letter of complaint to the Maple Ridge Mayor, every councillor, the agriculture ministry and other interested parties.

“It’s a real orange glow in the sky that is reflected off the trees,” she said, adding it is out of place in the rural community of Whonnock.

But Tantalus spokesman Dan Sutton said the company is remedying the situation.

A blackout curtain has been installed, and light cycles have changed so that they will only run around dawn or dusk going forward.

“We have heard the concerns of our community and are adjusting our lighting strategy going forward so it is not impactful for our immediate neighbours,” said Sutton.

The 75,000 square foot greenhouse operation on 272nd Street in East Maple Ridge was constructed over the objections of the Whonnock community. Hundreds of opponents argued the grow op would drain the groundwater from the Grant Hill Aquifer, and leave their wells dry.

Neighbours have been complaining that Tantalus has not been living up to its commitments to limit the light pollution from their facility. Daniel Sutton, the CEO of Tantalus Labs, said the greenhouse would minimize light pollution, filter odours and use a rainwater collection system.

Maple Ridge manager of bylaws and licensing Robin MacNair said the city has received complaints and is investigating. However the city does not have a light pollution bylaw.

“They’re thumbing their nose at everyone,” said Johnson. “It’s an industry, and it should be in an industrial area.”

Tantalus touts its Sunlab technology that uses natural light, but Johnson said they appear to need their grow lights a lot.

“They’re not going to get the sunlight they need in the Pacific Northwest.”

She has noticed the lights on at 6 a.m., at 11 p.m. when she is going to bed, and in the middle of the night at 3 a.m.

She is about 250m south of the facility, and keeps the blinds drawn to block out the light. Other homes are closer, and she said “it must be awesomely terrible.”

In a letter to agriculture minister Lana Popham she wrote:

“It would be very nice to see you as our newly elected Minister of Agriculture step up and make these people do as they are told. It’s clear that they have some deep pockets and can afford to spend millions of dollars to construct what they claim is a “State of the Art” facility. It should also be noted that in their initial stages they claimed that the lights would only be used very minimally for a few hours in the evening, as the sun would provide all the light necessary.”