One of the interior grow rooms at Sundial’s facility in Olds. The plant is causing residents to complain about a pot smell. (Advocate file photo).

Olds residents, town officials concerned about marijuana smell from cannabis producer

Ongoing complaints about odour from a commercial marijuana producer have prompted the Town of Olds to ask residents to take their concerns directly to the company — or to Ottawa.

The municipality issued a public release Friday stating all complaints about Sundial Cannabis creating a pot smell at the south end of town should be taken up with those with more power to fix the problem — either Sundial or its regulator, Health Canada.

“As a town, we are progressive, but we don’t need a cannabis smell,” said Mike Merritt, chief administrative officer of the Town of Olds, in an interview Friday.

He added Sundial’s municipal development permit states the company must live up to Health Canada’s odour guidelines.

And, so far, he doesn’t believe the company has breached them.

Yet a persistent odour problem exists — especially at the south end of town, where Sundial is located.

Unless it’s dealt with effectively and soon, Merritt said Sundial could have some trouble getting future development approvals from the municipality.

The Calgary-based company released a statement apologizing for the pot odour that “might be unpleasant for some people.”

“We want to assure you that we are working on it,” said a release that stressed Sundial has already installed some odour-reducing technologies, and is trying to find more efficient ones in its evolving industry.

Sundial is the biggest employer in Olds, with a workforce of more than 500 people and 1,000 positions expected to be created in total when the company’s plant operations are fully rolled out.

Largest employer

Among several smell-reducing strategies that have been implemented at Sundial Cannabis were the installation of additional odour-control carbon filters on various parts of the operation, as well as external air vents.

And a so-called in-line ducting solution, for odour control within rooms, has been tried, as well as a new filtration system that, if effective, could be installed as an upgrade to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and equipment.

“Although we appreciate that the odour might be inconvenient for some, please note that there’s absolutely no health risk to our employees or residents. We’ll continue to work with council and officials to address community concerns related to odour,” states the company’s release.

More than a dozen odour complaints have flowed into the town office through various channels, so it’s hard to get a precise number, said Merritt.

The town is providing residents with a link to an online complaint form for Health Canada’s cannabis legalization and regulation branch, as well as Sundial’s email for anyone with questions about the operation.

Concerns about odour were raised during town discussions prior to plant approvals, and the municipality was repeatedly told there were federal guidelines Sundial had to operate under.

A Health Canada official could not be reached for comment about the odour on Friday, or how it deals with these kinds of complaints.

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Marijuana plants in the “flowering” room during a tour of the Sundial Growers Inc. marijuana cultivation facility in Olds, Alta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh).

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