Hamilton targets large-scale personal grow operations with nuisance bylaw amendment

The City of Hamilton is amending its nuisance bylaw as a result of large-scale personal grow operations in the area. GETTY

Hamilton’s nuisance bylaw is being amended to address odour and lighting concerns connected to large, unlicensed cannabis grow operations.

At issue are locations where Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark says people have used a “legal loophole” by combining their personal licences for growing medical cannabis with greenhouses and other converted buildings that house thousands of pot plants.

READ MORE: Hamilton councillor hoping proposed bylaw amendment will eliminate odours from personal grow ops

Clark notes that he started looking for solutions during last year’s growing season because of a reported greenhouse-turned-grow-op at Green Mountain Road and Centennial Parkway.

Without strict controls, including the use of carbon filters to control the smell, he says neighbouring residents “could no longer enjoy the outdoors. They couldn’t open their windows, they couldn’t have a barbecue, they couldn’t sit in their backyard because the stench was overpowering.”

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There have been similar complaints about converted buildings elsewhere in the city, including Glanbrook, Ancaster and Flamborough.

READ MORE: Task force seizes illegal pot from legal grow op in Hamilton — OPP

Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson says he was so relieved to see the report recommending nuisance bylaw amendments that he did “a fist pump.”

Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge is also 100 per cent supportive of the amendments, adding that she “could not believe” the stench while visiting some affected homes in her ward.

Under the new bylaw, an individual can be ordered to fix a smelly pot problem. If it isn’t addressed, a court conviction could result in a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation.

Some councillors have expressed concerns that the new rules could unfairly target residents who legally grow a few plants for personal use.

Ken Leendertse, Hamilton’s director of licensing and bylaw enforcement, insists they were developed specifically to deal with complaints about large-scale personal grow operations.