A cannabis growing facility was approved in Red Deer County on Tuesday after assurances the plant would not give off a pong.
Calgary-based Bighorn Growth Co. wants to build a 2,100-square-foot cannabis production facility inside an industrial building in North Blindman Industrial Park, just east of Highway 2A, five kilometres north of Red Deer.
Some neighbours of the proposed cannabis operation urged the county to turn down the application, citing potential odour problems.
A resident in the nearby Northland Estates subdivision said it will be “virtually impossible” to contain the cannabis smell and the development would cut house values in half and increase the potential for crime.
Several other nearby businesses and residents shared similar concerns in letters.
Bighorn representative Aleks Strbac told the county’s municipal planning commission that an advanced filter system would ensure 99.9 per cent of odours are contained.
“There is just no chance of odour leaving the facility,” said Strbac, who said a much larger plant next to a residential area in Calgary has been operating without problems.
Strbac said the facility will grow about 1,200 plants for recreational cannabis markets. It is a production facility only, with no retailing on site. It is expected to be operational early next year.
Mayor Jim Wood said he was planning to vote against the project, but was confident that odour will not be an issue after hearing Tuesday’s presentation.
“I’ve seen a lot of assurances here that have, actually, changed my mind,” he said.
Wood asked staff what the county could do if the cannabis facility proved to be a problem.
Dave Dittrick, director of planning and development services, said a stop-work order could be issued, shutting down the operation.
Dittrick said he was not expecting any problems. The county has been monitoring a facility with 20 times the capacity of the Bighorn proposal located in an industrial park just south of Red Deer and there have been no odour issues.
“We’re really comfortable with this technology,” he said.
Coun. Christine Moore was the only planning commission member to vote against the project.
Moore said she still had “huge concerns” that smell could be a problem for nearby residents.
“I don’t know if we can fully believe there will be no smell.”