In less than a week after opening its doors to the cannabis industry, Williams Lake is speeding forward as a contendor for potential investors.
“We have had several high level investors in town looking at the opportunity of creating a federally-regulated cannabis site that would feed into the federal system,” Coun. Scott Nelson confirmed Wednesday. “We have been showing them the community and giving them a good overview of the industrial area where we would like to see something developed.”
Presently there are five pieces of property that could be suitable, Nelson added.
“On top of that they looked at the opportunities of research and development with our university that pertain to manufacturing and the opportunity to expand beyond the 100,000-square-foot capacity they would need to start out to up to 175,000 square feet.”
The cannabis industry is very competitive, Nelson said, adding the government estimated it is presently generating $6 billion annually in Canada which with legalization is anticipated to grow to $26 billion.
“If you look at companies on the stock market right now they are worth an estimated $20 billion dollars so it’s significant dollars we are talking about.”
He predicts there will be several amalgamations and continued growth within the industry.
“It’s a clean industry,” he added. “It is going to be heavily federally regulated and for Williams Lake we can tie in, create good-paying jobs and the opportunity to expand, and increase tax dollars coming in. We are looking at anywhere between 200 to 500 jobs on the initial phase and if they get into manufacturing it’s another several hundred jobs.”
Nelson repeated his message from last week’s city council meeting when he put a motion forward to make Williams Lake a cannabis industry friendly community, saying it is crucial the City be proactive.
“When we talk about a community in transition, we need to go out and look at other opportunities to encourage jobs and investment in this community. Not only are they bringing cannabis, these investors, but they have connections in China with other key projects that council will be announcing in the near future.”
Nelson described a sense of urgency, as many cities are in the process of “rushing to try and get some facilities” and confirmation, so Williams Lake is working hard to sell its industrial area as a place to invest.
“Council is proactive, the mayor has been very proactive, and the community has been very positive about moving forward with this,” he said.