A $500,000 provincial grant has been awarded to the Williams Lake Indian Band for its new cannabis cultivation facility that will be built next to its cannabis store, Indigenous Bloom on Mackenzie Avenue South. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake Indian Band receives $500,000 boost from province for cannabis operation

The provincial government made the announcement Thursday, June 18

The B.C. provincial government is lending its support to the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) to help build a farm-to-gate micro cannabis cultivation facility on First Nations lands within the city limits of Williams Lake.

Sugar Cane Cannabis is one of over 150 projects benefiting from nearly $14 million in one-time grants by the government.

Chief Willie Sellars said WLIB is extremely grateful for the generous support from the province in the amount of $500,000.

“The last five years have been very challenging for the Cariboo with the Mount Polley disaster, the wildfires of 2017 and now the COVID-19 crisis,” Sellars noted in a news release.

“The WLIB cannabis cultivation project will help to kickstart our economy, create new jobs and stimulate tourism,” Sellars added. “This project represents a huge opportunity for the Williams Lake Indian Band and the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

Read More: Williams Lake Indian Band eyes B.C.’s first farm-to-gate cannabis operation

A groundbreaking ceremony for the 6,000 square foot facility, located at 1145 Mackenzie Avenue South by WLIB’s retail cannabis store, Indigenous Bloom, is scheduled for Monday, June 22.

It is expected to be operational within 12 to 14 months, and provide 10 to 20 full-time jobs in Williams Lake.

The grants announced June 18 are in addition to more than $5 billion in provincial income supports, tax relief and funding for people, businesses and services previously announced in response to the novel coronavirus, the province said.

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson noted the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every region of the province, and he is glad the province is providing these one-time grants to lend extra help to people, communities and economics in rural B.C.

“As someone who lives in a rural community, I know that rural B.C. is the backbone of our economy,” Donaldson added.

Read More: City to launch public survey about Williams Lake Indian Band cannabis cultivation facility

Williams Lake city council has been at odds with the project and agreed at the last regular meeting to launch a 30-day online survey on June 22 to gain feedback about the facility.

City councillors have said while the City has no jurisdiction on reserve lands, the development is encompassed by the City and near the entrance to the Scout Island Nature Centre.

Councillors said they want to inform the public about the proposal and give them an opportunity to provide input or express any concerns on it.

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