Development continues on B.C.’s first farm to gate cannabis facility in Williams Lake.
Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) director of legal and corporate services Kirk Dressler said construction is nearing completion and that it will take about three months to get through the initial growing process.
“By late summer or fall, we’ll be in a position to retail from that facility which is exciting,” he said.
WLFN had inked an agreement with B.C. late last September after breaking ground three months earlier on the facility—Sugar Cane Cannabis which will be 7,000 square feet in size with 2,100 square feet of growing space.
The $3 million micro-cultivation operation will produce up to 650 kilograms of cannabis, available for on-site retail sale and supply WLFN-owned Unity Cannabis stores, including the one located next door.
Under the agreement, any remaining product could be purchased by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for its BC Cannabis Stores or other provincially licensed retailers.
The first Unity Cannabis dispensary was previously the location of an Indigenous Bloom cannabis store that did not have a provincial license as it operated on reserve land under WLFN law.
WLFN is looking at operating six other Unity Cannabis stores primarily in the Okanagan and in places such as Merritt, Cache Creek and Kamloops.
To date, WLFN has invested $4 million in cannabis infrastructure, Dressler said.
“The banks are slow to come to the table to finance these projects as there’s still a reluctance,” he added, noting it is also challenging from a technical perspective to put the plans together in which many First Nations lack the resources to be able to do so.
“It’s difficult for communities to break into the legal market, and those are some of the things that we’re working along with the province and federal government to overcome to facilitate First Nations involvement in the cannabis industry, but there’s a huge amount of interest.”