An indoor cannabis production facility operating within city limits could become a reality if it gets the green thumbs up from city council.
Nelson Cannabis Collective, a private company that includes six investors, has purchased an empty lot at 45 Government Rd. in Railtown in order to build a 1,810 square metre facility that will employ up to 20 part-time and full-time jobs.
Although the first phase is for a one-storey facility that includes three cultivation rooms, the company also showed off concepts last week for a three-storey, 4,880 square metre building.
Phil Pinfold, who owns Retallack Lodge and is one of the initial investors in the collective, said he believes the time has come for a cannabis facility in Nelson.
“Traditionally this industry has been down the dirt road or in the shadows,” said Pinfold.
“We feel like our nation got behind this industry, [and] every small community that’s involved in cannabis cultivation. We think it’s a fair thing to do within city limits, because a lot of people within the city are involved in the industry.”
The first hurdle for the project is a zoning amendment.
Nelson Cannabis Collective applied in July for the amendment that would allow cannabis cultivation within Railtown’s MU-4 zone, which is designated for waterfront mixed-use, industrial and commercial use.
That amendment must go through an advisory committee, a first reading and a public hearing before it can be voted on by city council, which a timeline provided by the company suggests could happen in December.
Pinfold said he believes the city will support the company’s plan.
“I think it’s an opportunity to build economy [and] get some taxable dollars circulating through the community. From my understanding, it’s something they’re very interested in. I wouldn’t say they are proponents but support the idea as long as everybody’s happy.”
Making everyone happy might be easier said than done.
Nelson Cannabis Collective’s pitch includes ventilation systems that promise no odour will leave the building, as well as high efficiency water and power usage.
The company also says it will purchase three to five electric bikes for staff use, add covered bike storage for up to 23 bikes as well as four e-bike charging plugs, install two Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations, make a $5,000 donation to the Nelson International Mural Festival, and either install solar panels on the roof or invest in the Nelson Community Solar Garden.
Pinfold said the company is trying to anticipate the community’s concerns.
“We live here too, we have children going to school here as well,” he said. “I don’t really believe we have to sell it. It’s something that’s been ingrained in this community for decades and unfortunately it’s been more of an untaxable, underground type of industry.
“For the federal government to give us this opportunity to legitimize and basically activate an expert level workforce … it’s going to pump a lot of tax dollars, it’s going to create jobs, it’s going to create opportunity for this community that already has a reputation for cannabis.”