A pot-growing operation is raising a big stink in London.
The Hyde Park Business Improvement Association and Coun. Josh Morgan say they’ve received a flood of complaints about a pungent smell coming from a North Routledge Road building that houses a medical marijuana grower.
The complaints – from area businesses, residents and developers – started in October but have picked up recently, prompting the BIA to call a special public meeting Friday to discuss the issue, general manager Donna Szpakowski said.
“It just smells skunky,” she said of the stench, adding it gets worse in the warm weather.
“There’s some pretty big concerns right now about what this odour could do to the area.”
Coun. Josh Morgan, whose Ward 7 includes the operation, is leading the charge to remedy the problem at the former Spencer Steel building, located northwest of Hyde Park and Gainsborough roads.
“It’s a very strong odour,” he said, noting it resembles agricultural smells more than fresh cannabis.
“It’s not acceptable in a neighbourhood with businesses and residences.”
Morgan alerted city staff, the Ministry of Labour and Health Canada, the federal agency tasked with regulating medical marijuana growers.
London bylaw boss Orest Katolyk says his office has received several complaints about a smell coming from the area of Hyde Park and Gainsborough roads.
“The enforcement of odour is not within the jurisdiction of the municipality,” Katolyk, who forwarded the complaints to Health Canada and Ministry of the Environment, said in an email response.
A Health Canada spokesperson couldn’t immediately confirm whether the agency had received any complaints about the Rutledge Road grower.
Neither the BIA nor Morgan has been able to find out the name of the business or individual behind the business.
“We have not had contact with them,” Szpakowski said. “We don’t know who’s running the operation.”
When a reporter visited the building Monday, three men came outside, one of whom identified himself as the operator of the business, but refused to give his name.
He told the Free Press he’s in compliance with Health Canada’s regulations and had previously showed his cultivation licence to city officials during an inspection.
The man, who didn’t give his name, disputed that there’s an odour coming from the building. He also declined to say how many cannabis plants are inside, citing security concerns.
Under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), Canadians with pot prescriptions are allowed to grow their own marijuana or appoint an individual approved by Health Canada to do it for them.
A patient prescribed the maximum of seven grams of dried cannabis a day is allowed to have up to 35 indoor plants. Up to four individuals can register to grow cannabis at the same location. Growers grandfathered in under the previous Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) are allowed to cultivate even more plants.
ACMPR and MMAR growers shouldn’t be confused with commercial licensed producers, the large-scale growers who supply the bulk of the country’s medical marijuana and the entire recreational pot market.
Morgan also alerted Liberal MP Kate Young (London West) about the problem.
Young, who plans to attend Friday’s meeting, said she raised the issue during a meeting with Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
“I think this is an issue that we have to address right away,” she said.
“That’s why I said I’d come out and listen to people on Friday . . . I also want to get a sense of how bad it is, and what impact it has on that neighbourhood, both today and in the future.”
Morgan says he doesn’t have a problem with licensed marijuana growers in London, as long as they don’t affect their neighbours.
“If the smell was mitigated, there would be no issue here,” he said.