Fine for smelly grow-ops gets final approval in Langley Township

Langley Township council is concerned about the smell from legal medicinal grow-ops.

A bylaw that allows fines for smelly marijuana grow-ops $500 a day won final approval from Langley Township council Monday night (Jan. 26).

The vote was unanimous.

Township staff estimate there are 600 small legal marijuana grow-ops in Langley operating under designated-person production licences.

Those licences were supposed to be phased out in favour of large commercial grow-ops in April, but that has been held up by a Supreme Court challenge.

The Township is hoping to avoid a legal challenge of its new odour law because it falls within a municipality’s power over nuisances.

A staff report says the Township has a legal opinion that the new regulation “is unlikely to raise a constitutional challenge” because it doesn’t ban growers, but only requires filters.

Council also gave preliminary approval Monday to a business licence fee that will require the big commercial grow-ops to pay $5,000 a year when they begin operating.

“I think this is the best option that we have [to regulate grow ops]” Councillor Charlie Fox said.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

The fee will only apply to the growers, not the consumers of medicinal marijuana.

Businesses that pay licence fees are subject to inspection by the municipality.

The Township is unable to forbid medicinal grow-ops altogether because they operate under federal authority and the Agricultural Land Commission  (ALC), the provincial agency that regulates farmland, has ruled that pot crops are “consistent with the definition of farm use … and as such is an allowed use.”

There are at least 19 proposed commercial grow-ops in the Township, most of them located on farmland.