By Mike Williscraft
In what many residents say has been a battle in futility, the “war” against cannabis odour issues has a new front established in Vineland.
Residents in Vineland – joining counterparts in Jordan and Grimsby who have been complaining vociferously about cannabis stench blanketing their properties – placed many calls to NewsNow and Lincoln’s town hall in the last 10 days all centering on a 23rd Street grow facility.
“It is unbearable. Something has to be done,” said Sheryl Reid, whose home is more than a half-mile away in the Church/Menno Street neighbourhood.
Fellow Vineland resident Hans Taal agreed but noted the problems stem from little in the way of governance for the entire fledgling marijuana grow industry.
“There is no control,” said Taal.
“Sure, it could be a great industry, lots of jobs. I love that but where are the guidelines? Where is the control?”
Officials at the municipal level are also asking these questions as they, just like residents, have been bounced around from calls to Niagara Region Health to federal and provincial bureaucrats as they try to get decisive information.
In many instances, say residents, little of no action has resulted.
With the greenhouse at 3955 23rd St. commonly known as Maple Leaf Nurseries, Town officials have pushed hard due to issues with this particular location, said Lincoln chief administrative officer (CAO) Mike Kirkopoulos.
“We’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls on this issue. I actually was on site earlier (Friday) with Matt Bruder who oversees bylaw and works in planning,” said Kirkopoulos.
“An issue was raised a number of weeks ago. Immediately after this was brought to our attention, we met with the greenhouse owner. We indicated we have an interim control bylaw so any growing is prohibited. A follow up meeting was requested with legal counsel providing advice. Last week, staff met with the owners’/growers’
representatives. They agreed to immediately cut down and remove 50 per cent of the plants with the remaining 50 per cent coming shortly thereafter and within the next few weeks.”
“That was not acceptable.”
Since those initial discussions, the circumstance has changed significantly.
“The number of complaints has increased dramatically. Today (Friday) we confirmed, indeed, 50 per cent (of the plants) are gone. We discussed with the owner/grower representative the option and route of a charge – which means a court date is set and we are in court dealing with the matter. Because it is zoning and not a bylaw, we don’t have the power to go in and cut and remove them ourselves, only a charge and court proceeding.”
The option Kirkopoulos gave was immediate action on behalf of the grower.
“I indicated to the representative today (Friday), that we would be seeking immediate action and removal. It was agreed work would begin first thing Monday on the cutting/removal of the plants and the operations would cease once they are cut and removed,” said Kirkopoulos.
“Both Matt and I will be on site regularly – likely daily next week to ensure progress to remove is occurring. I’m thankful the community has been vigilant to share complaints and issues so when these sites and contraventions are discovered we can act swiftly and immediately to seek resolution.”
While the municipality was able to move for some resolution in this instance, there are still many other locations where the impact of cannabis greenhouse odour emissions is causing serious issues for neighbouring property owners.
“Those that predated the ICB (interim control bylaw) and remain an issue are constantly monitored by our bylaw group. We are also in constant contact with police if and when needed. We will be bringing forward an odour control bylaw to committee and council possibly for October or November at the latest. Council really advocated at AMO for this and we have ministry support for one,” said Kirkopoulos.
“Our zoning update is also on schedule to come back for deliberation to council before January.”