Woodstock council gave preliminary approval for an entrepreneur to begin the long process of establishing a cannabis nursery and seed business within town limits.
At the Tuesday, Oct. 26, regular council session, councillors agreed Director of Development and Planning Andrew Garnett should provide businessman Scott Clark with a letter of support to pursue his vision to establish a cannabis nursery called Cultivarium.
Following Clark's presentation to council at the Oct. 19 council in committee session at AYR Motor Centre, Garnett provided council members with a proposed letter of support at the Oct.26 meeting.
"Woodstock council supports in principle your plans for Cultivarium as per your presentation on Oct. 19, 2021," the letter signed by Garnett read. "Once you are ready to proceed, please let us know, and we will start the application process, which could be subject to conditions."
Garnett said the letter provides Clark with the opportunity to begin the extensive process, including federal approval via Health Canada, a search for a suitable property to establish the business, and a zoning and approval process through the Woodstock Planning Action Committee and council.
During his presentation to council the previous Tuesday, Clark — a cultivation manager at Solargram Farms, with five years experience with Health Canada-approved facilities — said outlining his vision to the town is an early step in a long process.
He said the entire process, which could take between six and 18 months, cannot begin without the town's approval.
Clark explained his long-term goals are to gain Woodstock approval for a cannabis nursery;
create a facility abiding by Health Canada rules and regulations;
form a retail outlet to sell the plants and seeds;
and partner with NBCC Woodstock to host a Cannabis Cultivation Technician program.
Clark said the first step is to inform investors, which includes himself, they have the town's tentative approval.
He said funding the proposed venture involves "three private investors, personal finances and appropriate loans.
To complete its vision, Clark said, Cultivarium investors must find a suitable location and building — whether a new building or retrofitted existing structure to meet Health Canada standards — to establish the operation.
He said the Woodstock Industrial Park appears to be the most likely site for the operation.
Clark described the type of business to council, explaining it differs from large cannabis production operations. Cultivarium will sell plants and seeds, noting he's already talking with Organigram, a prominent cannabis producer for which he used to work, about a sales agreement.
He said the business would also have a retail market, adding Cannabis NB's decision to skip Woodstock for one of their retail locations played into his decision to establish his operation in the town.
As a nursery growing small clones and seedlings, Clark said Cultivarium's customer base would be larger growing and production operations, as well as the homegrown market.
Clark said Cultivarium doesn't need cooling towers, nor would the nursery produce an odour.
He said the seed production doesn't require a lot of space to make it productive.
"I don't need a lot of plants to get a lot of seeds," Clark said.
From Woodstock's economic perspective, the businessman said Cultivarium would generate between five and 10 nursery and retail jobs, create work for local construction companies and tradespeople, and provide medical and recreational growers with a reputable and legal source to obtain plants.
Clark said his efforts to approach NBCC about establishing — and if they agree, instructing — a Cannabis Cultivation Technician program would provide a viable trade for local students or bring more students to the community.
During the Oct. 26 council session, Coun. Jeff Bradbury suggested Clark should host a public meeting before the town gives final approval to Cultivarium's plans.
Garnett said Clark would need to come before council and the planning advisory committee before moving forward with his plans.
He said town approvals would be like any zoning process, including public meetings for residents to speak in support or against the business.
Garnett added council could also impose conditions for the business owners to meet before approving it.
He said the approval letter from the town allows Clark and his business partners to pursue Health Canada approval, nothing more.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun