Bradford resident says neighbouring cannabis farm doesn’t pass smell test
‘I am one of those unusual people that reacts differently with the smell of cannabis and I have a heightened smell, which makes it worse’
At a recent Bradford West Gwillimbury town council meeting, resident Deborah Salmons spoke about an issue she and her husband are facing: the less-than-sweet odour of the crop growing on the farm next door.
A cannabis crop.
Six years ago, the couple elected to move to the Bradford area after her husband suffered a brain aneurysm. They were looking for a location that combined urban and rural — away from the smog, smoke and perfumes that could trigger an aneurysm, but close enough to a hospital in case of emergency.
“It was a really good fit for us to move the Bradford,” Salmons said. “You’re not far from the town and you’re not totally isolated.”
They decided to rent a farmhouse, surrounded by onions and carrots on Fraser Street in the Holland Marsh.
“I love being around nature,” she said.
The couple enjoyed living in the area, until six months ago when a new farmer moved in down the road and started growing marijuana.
The odour has made Salmons ill every morning and she’s worried about the impact the crop will have on other residents and their health.
“I am one of those unusual people that reacts differently with the smell of cannabis and I have a heightened smell, which makes it worse,” she told councillors.
Salmons said she has made calls to both Health Canada and police, and was told there was nothing she could do as the farm is growing the crop legally.
Both agencies told her to contact the town’s bylaw office.
“There is no bylaw in place right now. Why is that?” Salmons asked council.
She pointed to the restrictions surrounding the cannabis operation at the corner of Reagens Industrial Parkway and Line 8, restrictions which not only govern security, but the escape of odours.
Salmons asked council to take action, sooner rather than later.
“When I look at cannabis as whole, medically I totally get it, but overall, it could be a hindrance if it’s not regulated right,” she said, expressing her concerns over the long-term effects of living next to a farm growing the crop, not only for herself and her husband, but for young children in the area as well.
Mayor Rob Keffer said the town has receieved emails about the situation.
“This is a concern to us,” Keffer said.
CAO Geoff McKnight noted staff have already been requested to look at controls for the Holland Marsh.
“We anticipate that, sometime later this fall, we’ll have additional research,” McKnight said with respect to other municipalities’ “implementable policies” that will be brought to council’s attention.
Staff will review the town’s current Official Plan and zoning policies that apply to cannabis production, McKnight added. That includes examining the regulatory approaches taken by other municipalities, determining the extent of the town’s authority to manage cannabis production within provincial and federal legislation, and then provide council with recommendations that could range from status quo to prohibition.
“The research should be completed this fall with recommendations presented to council early in the new year,” said McKnight.
The potential problem had been identified as early as this spring. A report from May 2019 by Ryan Windle, the town’s manager of community planning, carried a warning.
“Because such facilities are limited to less than 200 square metres, they can operate on relatively small properties that are potentially located among or close to clusters of residences and other sensitive land uses,” the report stated.