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Constant hum haunts neighbours of Central Ont. medical cannabis facility

The fact is, we bought out here for the peace and quiet and ... it’s gone,' neighbour says; Company COO says issue will soon be remedied
2019-10-23 Cannabis JO-001
From left, Chris Dennie, Lindsay Walker (holding her daughter Emma) and Krista Pain stand on Walker's property, with Natural Care Group's greenhouses in the background. A constant hum from a natural gas generator at the facility is impeding on the enjoyment of neighbours' properties. Jessica Owen/BarrieToday

ORO-MEDONTE — Growing pains have led to headaches for the neighbours of a medical marijuana facility in Oro-Medonte Township, and they say they’ve had enough.

But the owner of the facility says he’s working hard to bring in some relief.

Natural Care Group received their licence to operate on June 21, and started operations the same day. Since September, neighbours have noticed a constant hum caused by a natural gas generator and an occasional smell that wafts from the greenhouses.

Last year, OrilliaMatters did a walkthrough of the facility and spoke with Roey Fishman, COO of Natural Care Group about plans for it. To read that article, click here.

“When I read that article, I can’t help but laugh,” said Lindsay Walker, a neighbour of the facility. “They talked about being this community centre and it’s been like this from the get-go.”

Walker and Chris Dennie’s homes sandwich the facility. Walker is the facility’s next door neighbour to the north, and Dennie, to the south.

Walker said in the spring of 2019, she was approached by the owner’s real estate agent, wanting to buy all four properties adjacent to the site.

“The offer I got was highly offensive,” said Walker. While her home is been appraised at more than $1 million, which is built on family land she has lived on since she was a year old, she said the offer came in at about $750,000.

Since she turned down the offer, the neighbours say they haven’t been consulted at all directly.

“There was a job fair at the community hall. I went and spoke with them about my concerns,” said Dennie. “They said we wouldn’t even know they were there.”

The hum and an occasional smell haunt local homeowners. Both Dennie and Walker have videos taken inside their homes where the hum is clearly audible.

“It shuts off once every two weeks for an oil change for a couple of hours,” he added. “That’s our only break from that sound.”

Dennie said he moved away from the city to get away from the noise.

“We know this place isn’t going anywhere now. We just want our peace and quiet back,” said Dennie. “The fact is, we bought out here for the peace and quiet and within a matter of six months, it’s gone.”

Walker said she can’t even sit outside to read.

“We used to have patio furniture and sit outside with the kids to have dinner. It’s hard to even talk over the generator. That’s not why I live here,” she said.

Krista Pain lives just across the street from the driveway to the facility, and can also hear the humming and smell the odours that are emitted.

“The sound travels. People on Ridge Road are hearing it,” she said. “I have to shut windows at night so I can sleep.”

Pain said when she called the township, she was told to close her windows. However, not having air conditioning in her home meant that option wasn’t a real possibility for her back in early September.

Licences for medical marijuana facilities are doled out by Health Canada; the Township of Oro-Medonte had no opportunity to provide input in plans prior to the opening of the facility. The township did enact an interim control bylaw in December 2018 to determine what regulations could be put in place.

Mayor Harry Hughes said he has visited the facility to try to mediate a solution, and has seen the natural gas generator first-hand.

“The other issue was, particularly in the mornings, there is an odour coming off the greenhouse,” said Hughes. “We’re working on it. We’d like to have a solution sooner rather than later. The owner has been contacted and we’re in dialogue with him.”

In regards to any noise bylaw, township director of development services Andria Leigh said there are exemptions to the noise bylaw for lands that are zoned for agricultural use to allow for sounds that are part of normal farming practices.

“That is one of the areas we’re looking at with the provincial ministries. Is the generator... part of normal farming practise? We’re still looking at it,” said Leigh.

“We’ve had frustrations of this nature over solar panels prior to this, where the municipality has been taken out of the picture,” said Hughes. “Because of that, we haven’t been able to put controls in place where we would like to.

“I understand the rationale that the province and the federal government would like to do things in an expeditious way, but at the same time... the municipalities know the area very well and the concerns that might arise and would have tools to prevent that from happening,” Hughes added.

Roey Fishman, chief operating officer of Natural Care Group, said that he had rectified the problem, so hopefully the neighbours would now have some relief.

“With all new businesses and projects, there are growing pains,” said Fishman. “We heard our neighbours' concerns about our temporary natural-gas generator.”

Fishman said his company, last Friday, installed a sound-proof barrier around the existing generator. Long-term, the company is planning to install a new co-generator system that will eliminate the noise problem entirely.

He said a date has not yet been determined to install the co-generator system.

“We’re working as hard as we can to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said. “Both our engineers and the township have confirmed that the sound barrier we constructed is extremely effective.”

In regards to the odour, Fishman said the facility does comply with all federal and provincial regulations. Municipal bylaw officers also attended the facility, and Fishman said they also confirmed there weren’t odours outside the facility.

That being said, Fishman regrets that this problem has caused strain between his facility and neighbours.

“We do apologize for any problems we’ve had with our neighbours and we really are trying as hard as we can to rectify the situation as quickly as possible,” he said.

One of the ways Fishman said his company is trying to be a better neighbour is by creating a new email address for community concerns that promises a response within 24 to 48 hours. The email is [email protected].

“I do think there are a few neighbours that we need to do a better job of communicating with,” said Fishman. “We chose Oro because we’d been a part of that community... it’s a beautiful place with beautiful land and clean water, and it’s made it possible for us to build a business. We want to continue to do that.”


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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