By Mike Williscraft
Nobody would have been able to convince me throughout this entire year that the findings of the provincially sanctioned regional governance review could or should take a back seat to any other issue, but it has come to pass.
The potential problems caused by noxious fumes emanating from Niagara West greenhouses may be THE most important single issue facing local municipalities.
As noted in an earlier edition, good reader, you may not have a care in the world about the smell of skunky weed, but you should.
Drive east of Bartlett on Main Street in Grimsby and your car fills with weed grow fumes. In Lincoln it is practically everywhere.
Drive along the Service Road from Durham Road right down through Jordan. You will catch the sent of 4-5 different greenhouses – if not more – in that stretch.
It’s maddening. It is infuriating. It is frustrating.
Nobody wanted this situation. Legalizing weed falls nicely under Julius Caesar’s “give them bread and circuses” edict but neither bread no circuses cause clothes and households to be penetrated by odour.
I don’t care about weed in the slightest. It is like the internet to me. Some people can’t live without out it whereas I think the world would be a better place without either.
If you like weed or playing online for hours at a time, more power to you…just not my cup o’ tea.
Last week when the provincial government confirmed what many had expected (hoped for) – that NO changes in municipal structure would be forced upon the province’s eight regions which had come under the governance review – it was a sigh of relief for many reasons.
But if they had mushed Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln all into one municipality along with Pelham and Wainfleet – which was the persistent rumour – we all would have muddled along and figured it out and 30 or so years down the road people might even have started to get used to it.
And if you think that sounds like a long time, 30 years to get used to a municipal shuffle, remember Niagara Region was formed nearly 50 years ago and people still hate that.
The reason the weed odour smell is so important is because none of us knows when it will become an issue, how bad it will be or how bad it can get.
Grow ops will continue to pop up, both legal and illegal. Legal/not legal does not matter. Smell issues are the same to the general public.
You want to live in a neighbourhood after forking out a ton of your hard-earned cash just to breathe in weed fumes 24/7? Even people who love weed would not want that smell to permeate their homes and their lives.
Then you roll those concerns over to the folks who have millions of dollars and their whole lives invested in wineries.
The winery crowd – no doubt many of which enjoy a puff or two – is not the kind that would cotton to the dank, musty smell from a cannabis production facility while sipping a pinot grizio and noshing on nibblies on a patio. Who would?
Residents and business operators should be happy with the tone taken by the Town of Lincoln on this file – namely they will leave no stone unturned as they take a napalm approach to getting control of this matter.
That rarely happens.
Typically, municipalities sit back, take a cautionary stance and warn the public of possible financial impacts if they take a particular approach on any contentious matter.
When the provincial government is looking for teamwork and synergies, Lincoln, Grimsby and West Lincoln should band together and strike a comprehensive, highly restrictive bylaw which gives them full control and an ultimate hammer where odour issues are concerned.
All enter into it eyes wide open and ready to fight it in the courts as required. Someone has to take on the mantel of establishing a beachhead and, from my view, Niagara West has even more to lose than others on this issue because of the winery sector and the quickly escalating real estate values. Many could lose all they have worked for if property values tank all because of a stinky neighbour who grosses out an entire geographic area.