Fresh­wa­ter farm­land sold, to be­come cannabis pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity

Noel’s Turkey Farm land sold, to be­come mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUANITA MERCER juanita.mercer@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: @juani­ta­mercer_

There’s a new cannabis busi­ness mak­ing its way to the prov­ince, and it could mean an­other 200 jobs in the Fresh­wa­ter area, near Car­bon­ear.

FSD Pharma an­nounced an agree­ment to pur­chase 51 per cent of At­lantic Is­land Cannabis Thurs­day morn­ing — what they are call­ing a “strate­gic in­vest­ment of $40 mil­lion to bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the prov­ince of New­found­land” with a “phased ex­pan­sion plan in place to create 200 lo­cal man­age­ment and con­struc­tion jobs.”

The first phase of the project in­volves set­ting up an in­door cannabis pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in Fresh­wa­ter, on the cur­rent Noel’s Turkey Farm land. Owner Kerry Noel signed a land sale agree­ment with At­lantic Is­land Cannabis on Wed­nes­day.

Once fully op­er­a­tional, the site is ex­pected to pro­duce up to 13,000 kilo­grams of cannabis per year, tar­geted to be supplied to New­found­land and pos­si­bly other prov­inces in At­lantic Canada, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

“New­found­land is a fan­tas­tic prov­ince with out­stand­ing, highly skilled peo­ple,” Thomas Fair­full, pres­i­dent and CEO of FSD Pharma Inc., stated in the news re­lease.

The li­censed cannabis pro­ducer has its head­quar­ters at a for­mer Kraft plant in Cobourg, Ont., where it is hop­ing to re­tain and in­crease jobs that were lost when the Kraft plant shut down in 2008. About 250 peo­ple lost their jobs, but with cannabis pro­duc­tion, the num­ber of jobs there could now grow by up to 1,200.

At­lantic Is­land Cannabis ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Suman Push­para­jah hopes the part­ner­ship with FSD Pharma will breathe the same kind of life into ru­ral New­found­land.

“I re­ally liked what they were do­ing, so that’s why this part­ner­ship was im­por­tant.”

Push­para­jah hired Robert Gian­nou, of Targa New­found­land, to lead the project.

He got to know Gian­nou through the Targa New­found­land road rally — in fact, Push­para­jah will be rac­ing this Septem­ber.

On a visit to New­found­land with Gian­nou, Push­para­jah learned that many peo­ple were leav­ing the prov­ince for work, and thought cannabis could help to create some jobs.

“I’m ac­tu­ally from Sri Lanka, and our peo­ple, one of the first boats with refugees came through New­found­land, so I’ve al­ways had some sort of con­nec­tion and wanted to do some­thing in New­found­land,” said Push­para­jah. “I al­ways had some­thing that I wanted to do for the prov­ince.”

200 jobs to gob­ble up Noel is sell­ing the land in Fresh­wa­ter where he has op­er­ated the turkey farm since his fa­ther founded it in the 1970s.

He said the past num­ber of years have been tough, try­ing to com­pete with large gro­cery chains that can sell turkeys for about half the price. While Noel is still think­ing about con­tin­u­ing a smaller turkey op­er­a­tion, he is happy to sell the land to be used for the bloom­ing cannabis in­dus­try.

“It’s a good deal, and it’s a bet­ter deal for the com­mu­nity, I think, be­cause the num­ber of jobs … I mean, my fa­ther died last year and I think he’d be proud to see, you know, if he could see 200 peo­ple go­ing to work there, it’s a lot bet­ter than five, for sure.”

While most peo­ple know Gian­nou through his Targa New­found­land ven­ture, he said he has years of ex­pe­ri­ence putting projects to­gether. That’s how he ap­proaches get­ting this new cannabis busi­ness in the prov­ince off the ground.

“I’ve been in­volved in putting projects to­gether all my life, from the fish­ing in­dus­try to off­shore ves­sels to Targa, which, of course, is the love of my life,” he said.

Gian­nou said the sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment that FSD Pharma, part­nered with At­lantic Is­land Cannabis, can bring to the prov­ince is why he’s pas­sion­ate about be­ing in­volved.

“In New­found­land right now, I so firmly be­lieve that we are not in a po­si­tion to ig­nore any op­por­tu­nity to bring fund­ing into this prov­ince. We have a well-pub­li­cized debt … we’re in trou­ble with the Muskrat Falls op­er­a­tion and I just know from bot­tom to top we have to open our­selves up to wel­come in­vest­ment into this prov­ince.”

Push­para­jah said the next step in­volves sit­ting down with the prov­ince to get a sup­ply agree­ment and re­tail li­cences put in place.

Once con­struc­tion be­gins in Fresh­wa­ter, about 50 jobs will be cre­ated to build the fa­cil­ity. In the long term, the fa­cil­ity will re­quire about 80 per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees once cannabis pro­duc­tion be­gins. All told, the ven­ture could create up­ward of 200 jobs in the area.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The cannabis pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity will be lo­cated at the Noel’s Turkey Farm lo­ca­tion in Fresh­wa­ter. Farm owner Kerry Noel signed a land pur­chase agree­ment with At­lantic Is­land Cannabis on Wed­nes­day.

TELE­GRAM FILE PHOTO

Robert Gian­nou is CEO of New­found­land op­er­a­tions with At­lantic Is­land Cannabis.

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