The future expansion of the Cremona-area Aurora Cannabis Inc. medical marijuana production facility will be going ahead, but on a smaller scale than originally envisioned, says company executive vice-president Cam Battley.
Located north of Cremona, the existing plant produces medical marijuana for use across Canada. The facility currently employs about 75 workers.
In November, Mountain View County council approved a land use bylaw amendment that redesignates an 89-acre parcel immediately adjacent to the existing federally licensed Aurora facility from agriculture district to direct control.
The move would allow the company to apply for a development permit to expand the facility.
In applying for the redesignation, the company said it planned to expand the existing facility in two phases, increasing the size of the facility by about 600,000 square feet.
The expansion was expected to increase employment from the current 75 to about 200, the company said.
In a Gazette interview on March 1, Battley said although the company still plans to expand the footprint and employment at the Cremona facility, the expansion would be smaller than originally outlined.
The smaller scale expansion has a good deal to do with the company’s plans to build a new 800,000-square-foot production facility on federal land at the Edmonton International Airport at Leduc, he said.
“What we are going to do is create an expansion plan (for the Cremona facility) and bring it to the (MVC) council under the direct control district in a way that would work for the community, taking into consideration the views of the community,” said Battley.
“We did get the direct control district and that was months of work in community engagement. What we are going to do is expand in a way that is respectful of the community, that does create additional investment and economic activity and more employment, but it will not be the massive footprint that we were initially envisioning.
“It will be significant and will create additional employment. The footprint will be smaller but the investment will be significant.”
Asked if employment at the expanded Cremona facility will be less than the 200 total jobs originally envisioned, he said yes.
The company is still working on the details of the proposed plan for the Cremona expansion, he said.
“We are tallying all the areas that we need more space and more employment, and once we’ve got that clarified then we will come to the council and we will proceed with the development permit process,” he said.
“We are going to grow and we are going to do it in a way that is beneficial to the community and will continue to be a leading economic driver in the community.”
One of the conditions of the newly approved direct control district is that the company must form a community advisory board, including area resident representation, prior to the issuance of a development permit.
A development permit application had not been made at press time Friday.