Our View: Regulators must find solutions for smells

Technology plus policy has helped stamp out nasty smells in the past

The odour of thousands of marijuana plants is not, for most people, a pleasant one.

Residents in South Aldergrove are now guinea pigs for a new problem – the smell of industrial-scale commercial marijuana production.

It’s also an old problem, and that’s why there is some reason to hope the issue will be resolved – hopefully sooner rather than later.

Everyone from neighbours to MLAs are up in arms about Canopy Growth’s massive pot farm near Zero Avenue.

The smell is the issue for most.

It wasn’t uncommon a few years ago to catch a whiff of marijuana in almost any neighbourhood in Langley. Somewhere, a house, basement, barn, or shed was growing illicit weed.

But the old criminal growers had good reason to remain hidden, and that included suppressing the smell as much as possible.

While this version of the problem is new, affecting rural dwellers who expected, at worst, a couple of weeks of manure spreading on nearby fields, this is far from the first time foul odours in rural areas have driven complaints.

A little more than 20 years ago, it was mushroom compost manufacturing that was sending people screaming to politicians for solutions. The eye-watering smell sometimes drifted into the downtown of Langley and hung in the air for days at a time.

Eventually, Metro Vancouver intervened, in the name of air quality concerns. A combination of regulation and better technology has largely kept that issue at bay for years now. Similar concerns have been raised, and usually dealt with, about poultry barns and other forms of smelly agriculture.

We hope that the same happens here – regulation and technology can return the pot odour to a faint whiff every now and again, not a constant.

– M.C.

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