An Ottawa farmer and his business partners want to turn a vegetable farm in rural Ottawa into a million square feet of cannabis production.
In the first step of what is a multi-jurisdictional approval process, a rezoning application goes before the city of Ottawa’s agriculture and rural affairs committee on Thursday.
If the city approves it, the group plans to seek a medical marijuana license from Health Canada.
Peter Abboud’s farm on Ramsay Road, between the rural south Ottawa communities of Metcalfe and Greely, currently produces tomatoes, beans and cucumbers for various Ottawa farmers markets.
Abboud is partnering with LiveWell Foods Canada and proposes converting the vegetable production to cannabis cultivation, doubling the current greenhouse space.
“LiveWell is planning on developing two state-of-the-art production facilities with more than one million square feet of greenhouse production capacity, all to an unparalleled level of quality assurance, procedures and testing,” says the company’s website.
Ottawa city councillor George Darouze supports the project in his ward and said he’s only heard from a couple residents who are concerned about the project.
“It was about water and drainage. One resident was concerned about security,” said Darouze.
Darouze sees huge potential for economic development from the proposed cannabis operation, including the promised creation of between 700 to 800 jobs.
22 licenses in 6 months
In the past six months 22 medical marijuana operations have been granted federal licenses in Ontario to produce cannabis,
Several more license applications are still pending.
Earlier this week another eastern Ontario community, Chesterville, welcomed a proposed marijuana operation set to grow inside a former Nestlé plant.
Ivan Ross Vrána, who helps emerging companies manage the regulatory process, used to work in the medical marijuana division at Health Canada.
He said there is a wide range of producers seeking approval, from big operations such as Smiths Fall’s Canopy Growth to small, independent operations.
Vrána said the million-dollar question is whether the number of suppliers will match the expected demand after recreational marijuana is officially legal.
If Abboud’s farm gets the rezoning approval it seeks at the agriculture committee, the application will then go before Ottawa city council later in February.
Darouze said he’s hearing interest from other budding marijuana entrepreneurs in his ward, though this is the first serious proposal.