Several councillors are praising a proposed cannabis production facility in the Engle business district at a Governance and Priories Committee meeting March 11.
Jordan Harker, the developer behind the project, said the facility will produce competitively priced products and would create roughly 12 full-time jobs and 20 to 25 part-time positions.
Specifically, council and administration looked at the proposal through a zoning bylaw lens, to ensure the facility is built in the properly zoned location.
The lot in question has been zoned as “BI” or business industrial. Lots zoned for BI can be used for “larger commercial and industrial complexes geared towards production of goods, accessory offices, research and development, laboratories, and greenhouses,” city documents state.
Nalini Naidoo, director of public planning, said the growing facility complies with regulations.
The facility itself will have no storefront component and will only be selling cannabis products to the territorial government, while being regulated by the federal government.
“We are just and a supplier. This is a very secure facility in line with Health Canada regulations,” Harker said.
He noted that visitors or anyone wanting to see the facility are not welcome.
The grounds also would include research and development laboratories, with most of that research concerning cannabis genetics and breeding, according to Harker.
“Also, we will be getting into edibles and oils but there are a lot restrictions that will come into play with that,” Harker said. “From the beginning our plan was genetics.”
With cannabis being a new economic component in the territory and despite administration noting that the federal government will not be sharing cannabis revenue with the city, administration supported the development of the facility and councillors followed suit.
“This is really encouraging for council,” Coun. Niels Konge said. “This is a territory where we don't produce a lot of things. Usually goods are brought up the road or flown in – and someone actually wants to actually produce something, that's a rarity up here. This should be applauded.”
Coun. Steve Payne, Coun. Shauna Morgan and Coun. Cynthia Mufandaedza all acknowledged support for the facility. Payne said when it comes to any locally-made product, “I'm all over it, so I guess I'll be all over this too.”
Payne is concerned, however, about the legal red tape such a facility would have to overcome to operate.
“You look at the brew pub and how many hoops they had to jump through to produce something that was already legal for a number of years,” Payne said. “I hope (regulators will) be on board with this.”
The territorial government, however, is not involved in regulating the facility in any aspect, says GNWT senior communications officer Todd Sasaki.
"Once operational, an NWT licensed producer would need to work with the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) to establish a contract to be a cannabis supplier in the NWT," Sasaki said in an email.
Council moved to expedite the approval process and had the matter put before council for a vote on March 11, which passed unanimously. Now, Harker will need approval from Health Canada to get the proposed facility operational.