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Residents object to removal of cherry orchard by CannTrust

In this view to the north, CannTrust's Fenwick operation is seen top right. The cherry trees at issue are seen centre left. GOOGLE EARTH IMAGE

 

BY JOHN CHICK
Special to the VOICE

CannTrust commenced removal of approximately 800 cherry trees last week on property they purchased south of their existing Balfour Street facility as the cannabis grow-op moves forward on a large-scale site expansion.

While the company is fully within their rights as landowners to remove the trees, the optics didn’t sit well with some local residents.

“It’s an ethical thing, is what it is,” Fenwick resident David Ireland said. “The trees are seven years old, they’re in their primes. You’d think they’d have a permit … but I don’t know.”

Jim Jeffs, of the Pelham Community Preservation Coalition, agreed. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Both Ireland and Jeffs are vociferous opponents of licenced grow-op expansion in Pelham, with Jeffs collecting 815 signatures for a petition against Leviathan’s planned reconstruction of its Foss Road facility — a proposal that the corporation is currently challenging the Town’s Interim Control Bylaw over.

Ireland asserted that an arborist friend who didn’t want to be identified had been offered the job of removing the cherry trees on the former McCarthy farm next to CannTrust, but that he declined because, as Ireland recounted it, he “didn’t want my name smeared.”

“He’s been an arborist for 40 years,” Ireland said.

CannTrust released a statement to the Voice, highlighting that the new greenhouse that will replace the cherry orchard will feature blackout screens that can be completely closed at night, mitigating light complaints.

“The land adjacent to our facility has been amalgamated with CannTrust’s property and will be the location of our expansion,” general manager Michael Camplin said. “We are actively planning and preparing for construction, including new enhancements such as high-tech ventilation and one hundred percent light blackout screens that can be completely closed. This will increase our quality and be better for the community.”

In theory, the light solution could sit well with Dave Klynhesslynk, who lives on Balfour Street across from the CannTrust facility.

“It’s lit up like a Christmas tree some nights, others it’s dimmed,” he said. “Recently they’ve been shutting it down around 8 PM. And I get it, I’m in agriculture too. And you’ve got to do what’s required for their crop. [But] why not start it a 4 o’clock in the morning instead of going in the evening — I don’t know if they’ve looked at that.”

One potential drawback to using curtains all night, according to Klynhesslynk, is if a greenhouse is using high-pressure sodium lights, then closing dark curtains causes the internal temperature to rise too high for crops.

Klynhesslynk’s main wish from CannTrust is that they replace curbside shrubbery that was removed during construction of their shipping and receiving lot. He credits the company with building a fence for his neighbour across Balfour, whose house is directly south of the lot, and east of the former cherry orchard.

“Shrubbery would be nice on the front. I would like to see stoplights installed at Balfour and Highway 20,” he added, pointing out increased traffic at the intersection due to the facility, which employs 285 people.

“Am I thrilled with it? Not really. Does it bother me? We’ve gotten over that,” Klynhesslynk said. “I just think if we could have that vegetative barrier again, that would go a long way to making the neighbours happy.”

Ireland encourages residents to come forward with any complaints about light, odor and otherwise from Pelham’s grow-ops.

“Unless people speak up and say something, nothing happens,” he said. [The licensed cannabis producers] aren’t going anywhere, I understand that. But they’ve got to clean up their act.”

 

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