Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

City of Port Alberni tackles cannabis odour complaints

City plans to amend nuisance abatement bylaw

The City of Port Alberni is looking to amend its bylaws in order to deal with complaints about cannabis odour.

Chris Baker, the city’s manager of community safety, presented a report to city council on Jan. 17 that explained how the municipality of Campbell River has been able to deal with cannabis odour issues using a nuisance abatement bylaw.

The amendments to Campbell River’s bylaw were originally put in place for seafood processing, but the city has “had some success” applying it to cannabis businesses, as well, said Baker.

The bylaw requires the property owner to engage an “odour specialist” who then provides a report. “And the onus is on the property owner to abide by the conditions of that report,” said Baker.

Baker suggested the City of Port Alberni make an amendment to its nuisance abatement bylaw, engaging a third party to recommend a course of action for odour issues. This way, the third party will be responsible for the technical knowledge to make recommendations, instead of the city’s enforcement staff.

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Over the past year, city council has received numerous letters from residents complaining about the smell coming from cannabis production and processing facilities within city limits. Odour is “the single most common” complaint that council receives about cannabis, said Councillor Ron Paulson on Jan. 17.

Mayor Sharie Minions explained that the issue is not with newly-created facilities that follow city licensing requirements, but with older facilities that were “grandfathered” in through the federal Cannabis Act.

“[Cannabis is] the type of industry we want to encourage here, and unfortunately that industry is left with a bad reputation because of the previous existing licenses that are not held to the same standard that we’re trying to achieve,” she said.

Cannabis regulation can be complicated, said Baker, because it involves federal, provincial and municipal spheres of jurisdiction.

“But the impacts to neighbourhoods are felt locally,” he said.

Council asked staff on Jan. 17 to bring forward a report with potential amendments to the city’s nuisance abatement bylaw that will allow the city to regulate cannabis odour complaints.

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