Dan Sutton said delays at city hall could cost his Maple Ridge cannabis operation revenue.
Sutton is the CEO of Tantalus Labs, which operates a Whonnock-based greenhouse. The company is planning to expand from a single greenhouse of 75,000 square feet to two with a total of 120,000 square feet.
Sutton said that was always the plan, outlined to city hall. The operation has been built in three phases, with the third phase being a second greenhouse.
“In 2013 the city was excited to have us. They helped us select the site.”
Former public works manager Frank Quinn advised council on April 2 that neighbours have complained about light, noise and occasional odours from the greenhouses, and the city has asked Tantalus to address those concerns. Council decided at that meeting to ask for a legal opinion before approving the expansion.
Sutton said “right to farm” legislation supersedes the concerns of neighbours, because the greenhouse is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“This is a farm, and we have farm rights,” he said.
He added city hall should therefore not use neighbour complaints to delay the company’s building permit. A group of residents opposed the grow-op before it was built.
“The reality of farm operations in B.C. is that any installation of impact mitigation measures is entirely voluntary on the part of Tantalus Labs,” added Sutton.
“If this was a dairy farm, we would not be legally obligated to reduce the odour of the cows.”
He said Tantalus has installed a bio filtration system to reduce odours, which was developed for U.S.-based hog farms, and exceeds Health Canada’s odour control regulations.
He said the company will voluntarily “make the substantial financial investment in reduction of glare and generator noise once our lawful and compliant building permit application has been processed and granted.”
However, he said city can’t unreasonably delay a building permit for a lawful project. Tantalus filed the permit in April, and the company is ready to start building.
“We’re looking for good news any day.”
Staff at city hall are not putting a timeline on the building permit decision.
Municipal engineer David Pollock said the city has asked for a legal opinion about the matter, has obtained it, and said the issue will be before council “in short order.”
Legal issues are generally discussed in closed meetings first, before moving to a public forum, he added. The private meeting has not happened yet.
Pollock did not comment on Sutton’s position that the city cannot delay a building permit.