Plans are underway to make Castlegar home to one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.
The City of Castlegar has entered into a lease agreement with Cannabis West Development to build a facility on land near the West Kootenay Regional Airport.
Cannabis West Development has plans to develop a chain of properties that are municipally permitted, zoned and approved.
After developing the property, the company will lease individual cultivation units to independent growers of micro brands and craft growers.
Each unit will be 6,300 square feet (585 square meters) and will be built to European export standards.
The units will be independent of one another and operate as standalone facilities. Tenants will own their own intellectual property, brand and reputation. However, Cannabis West plans to operate about 20 per cent of the units of each facility itself.
The individual growers will have to comply with all of the licensing requirements and will be able to sell their products to one of the provincial regulators or to licensed medical cannabis providers.
Cannabis West chief information officer Mike Hansen says that so far no micro-cultivation licenses have been issued in Canada, but many applications are in the process to be approved soon.
Construction on the park is expected to begin as soon as weather permits after the company takes possession of the land on Jan. 1.
The company has one other park on the go on Vancouver Island. Hansen expects it and the Castlegar park to open around the same time — towards the end of 2020 at the earliest.
“We are focusing on communities where there is a very established base of craft cultivators,” said Hansen. “Castlegar and the Kootenays is very established and very supportive of the concept.”
Hansen said they company would like to see units open as soon as possible, so will develop the park in phases. The first phase of the project will consist of 10 units and will occupy three to four acres of land.
Cannabis West will provide maintenance and security for the overall park.
Once open, Hansen estimates that phase one could bring in as many as 30 to 50 fulltime employees and 50 to 80 parttime employees.
He also expects that filling the units will not be too difficult.
“We have had quite a bit of interest from Castlegar and Nelson and all over the Kootenays,” said Hansen.
“The City of Castlegar has been very easy to work with and very receptive of the idea.”
Hansen says the West Kootenay was sort of an obvious choice for the facility.
“There is probably no better part of the country to harness the talent we are looking for.”
Cannabis West says the facility will be “ultra-modern and well built.”
The City of Castlegar will receive about $41,000 a year for the first ten years of the lease. Rent for each successive ten-year-term will be negotiated at fair market value.
The contract includes an option for Cannabis West Development to purchase the property at $250,000 per acre within the next three years. After that the price would be set on fair market value. Fifty per cent of all rent paid would be credited to the purchase price of the property.