Medical cannabis producer Santè Veritas Therapeutics is currently in talks with City of Powell River and Catalyst Paper Corporation for expansion as it continues to convert a building on Ash Avenue into a medical-marijuana growing facility.
City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said Santè Veritas has indicated it will exercise its option to purchase the former mill administration building that is currently being renovated, and has approached the city to buy additional property behind its location for construction of another 50,000-square-foot building. The company has also approached Catalyst about purchasing more of its surplus land at the mill site, added Formosa.
Santè Veritas chief executive officer John Walker said the company is “on the cusp” of acquiring its Health Canada medical-producer licence. He added that Santè Veritas has sought assistance from industry consultants and engaged with contractors experienced in constructing medical-cannabis growing facilities.
“We've reached out to the key people to ensure everything we're doing is very buttoned down with the city and Health Canada,” said Walker.
Santè Veritas signed a memorandum of understanding with the city in 2013 that included provisions for the company to lease the former Catalyst administration building, infrastructure the city acquired in 2011 as part of its agreement with Catalyst to reduce its municipal taxes while the company restructured.
The company is spending between $6 and $7 million on the building’s conversion and is expecting to create up 50 to jobs at the facility, said Walker.
Walker said Santè Veritas expects the conversion to be complete in mid-January, and for Health Canada to provide the licence in February. The company is aiming to generate revenue by the end of 2018, if not sooner, he added.
Walker said Santè Veritas could be looking at opening a few hundred thousand square feet of growing operations in Powell River. The company is planning a public information session in December so the community can learn more about its plans, he added.
Formosa said the project is helping to rebuild the local economy by creating more jobs and expanding the city’s tax base.
“We really want to see that growth," said Formosa.
Formosa said Santè Veritas’ expansion and focus on Powell River is good news.
"I'm optimistic,” said Formosa. "We want their investment here.”