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RDCK Director searching for details regarding pending cannabis growing business in Blewett

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
May 9th, 2018

Regional District of Central Kootenay Director, Ramona Faust is taking a wait and see approach after hearing news that a newly-formed Co-op is continuing in its bid to purchase land in Blewett to grow cannabis plants.

Faust told The Nelson Daily Tuesday, that while she has heard about the pending sale of the business inside the boundaries of Area E, she has seen no formal applications for a cannabis growing business.

“I haven’t seen a proposal come across my desk yet,” Faust said when asked about the sale of Georama Growers to Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op.

“Usually if a business is applying for a licence to grow cannabis, I’d get a referral from Health Canada or some type of regulating application briefing me on what the province expects.”

Todd Veri, president of Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op, told The Nelson Daily, the multi-stakeholder cooperative has signed a conditional offer to purchase Georama Growers pending on arranging financing and the passing of the legislation to legalize cannabis.

“We are only purchasing the land and buildings,” Veri said.

“The business will scale down and continue to operate on the site with us,” he added.

Founded in 1970, Georama Growers, located a few kilometers west of Nelson off Granite Road, operates a nursery, garden center and greenhouses on its 20-acre parcel overlooking the Kootenay River in Blewett.

The land was originally purchased in the early 1960s by George and Anna Grypma but has since grown into one of the most successful gardening flower outlets in the West Kootenay currently operated by son Case and wife Imelda.

The realty listing says the business has more than 30,000 SF of greenhouses as well as a full-service flower shop, renovated office building and numerous other buildings with more than $1 Million in sales each year.

Veri said the goal of Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op purchase is to use the greenhouses as a nursery — but not to grow full size plants — for both outdoor and indoor home growers and commercial operations.

“We will have a one-hectare demo farm on site and we will use the property to expand into edible and fiber production,” the Kaslo farmer explained. “Georama will be our central facility where we will produce transplants and process the crop once harvested.”

“In 2019 we look to grow outdoor organic cannabis on approximately 60 farms growing upwards of 2 million ft2 of cannabis,” he added.

Veri said due to pending regulations, the company will only really be able to sell to the various provincial distribution systems.

“(This) should be fine as we believe we will have a desired premium niche product as we have not yet heard of any other large-scale producers of organic outdoor,” he said.

“We will start with strains that we know produce in our climate and will build genetics from there.”

Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op is multi-stakeholder cooperative being formed in the Central Kootenay region to produce organic outdoor cannabis on underutilized agricultural land.

Faust is eager to see how the business will be structured.

“When something like this is proposed I get concerned about how security will be handled and odor from business . . . how close it is and how it will affect to residents in the area.”

Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op held a “ground-breaking meeting” in February to inform the public how they can participate in this new industry under the umbrella of the Co-op.

The 20.50-acre Georama Growers, with 10 acres of undeveloped land, is listed at just over $2 Million.

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