Problems mushrooming between Summerland neighbours over fungus farm

Some neighbours of an Okanagan farm are raising a stink because of the smell.

What the Fungus farm grows mushrooms on Garnet Valley Road in Summerland.

“It is so rancid, literally in seconds you’re gagging and wanting to get out of there,” neighbour Brad Besler said.

“It wafts all the way to the house over there. It is so disgusting. I’ve never smelled anything like that in my life,” he added.

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Besler put up a sign detailing his concerns, arguing that some of the farm’s buildings aren’t properly permitted.

“They’ve built into our setbacks,” Besler said. “It’s supposed to be 30 metres minimum, right up to our property line.”

Property owner and mushroom farm shareholder Thor Clausen said the building in question is a storage room for wood chips, not a mushroom barn.

That means it only needs to be about five metres back from the property line, he added.

Clausen said the mushroom farm doesn’t smell because it’s organic and doesn’t use any chemicals.

“There’s no manures; there’s no animal products; there’s no composting. It’s wood chips. The only thing you might smell is we have to pasteurize our wood chips, so it might smell a little bit like damp wood,” he said.

Clausen said that his neighbours have been harassing his staff, and police have responded on multiple occasions.

“They have been playing vulgar rap music, swearing, cursing and intimidating our employees,” he said.

RCMP confirmed that an investigation into complaints in the neighbourhood is still underway.

“The investigation is ongoing, and it is anticipated that an eventual package will be forwarded to the Crown prosecutor for consideration of appropriate charges relating to the behavior,” Staff Sgt. Bob Vatamaniuck said in an email.

The District of Summerland expects the mushroom farm to apply for a variance, said Corine Gain, acting corporate administrator.

If council approves, that could allow the farm to remain ‘as is,’ she added.

“If the variance is not approved, then those structures would have to be moved to meet that setback distance,” Gain said.

Gain said there’s no bylaw against the smell, although the district has asked various provincial authorities to look into their rules, she added.

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