November 30, 2016 10:00 am
Updated: December 1, 2016 9:13 pm

Massive marijuana production facility being built in Leduc County, Alta.

WATCH ABOVE: When it comes to marijuana and people's attitude towards the drug, the times are changing. Now, Leduc County in Alberta is set to cash in on changing rules and perceptions. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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A new hybrid greenhouse facility larger than 16 football fields that will produce marijuana has broken ground in Leduc County, Alta.

Aurora Cannabis has started construction on the 800,000 square foot production facility, which the company said will be the largest, most advanced and most automated cannabis production facility in the world.

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“Our objectives are very clear: to build the largest production capacity, with the highest production quality and the lowest production cost,” Aurora president Steve Dobler said.

READ MORE: Sneak peek inside Alberta’s first medical marijuana production centre

The company expects “Aurora Sky” to have the capability of producing 100,000 kilograms of marijuana per year.

Aurora believes the facility’s location will provide access to transportation, industrial infrastructure, power, water, gas and courier services.

“It’s a massive facility that’s going to employ a lot of people and it’s the right time to build something like this in the Edmonton area,” Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora Cannabis, said.

READ MORE: Alberta producer launches medical marijuana app

The company – which already operates a 55,200 square foot facility in Mountain View County, Alta. – said the closed-system, hybrid greenhouse concept of the design will give cultivation specialists control over environmental variables to ensure quality is consistent.

“We spent the past year evaluating and selecting the world’s best design concept for cannabis production on a massive scale. We are confident that the Aurora Sky project will achieve all of our key objectives, and further establish Aurora as an innovator and world leader in the cannabis sector,” Dobler said.

“This facility will grow and ship direct to patients across the country,” Booth said.

A rendering of “Aurora Sky”, a cannabis greenhouse facility to be located south of Edmonton.

Aurora Cannabis Inc.

The facility will represent an investment pegged in the tens of millions of dollars.

“We’ve been really working on an agribusiness platform here,” Barbara Engelbart McKenzie, with the Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Association, said. “So, we consider this part of that full agribusiness platform.”

Still, to some, cannabis production may not be the most welcome industry. But it’s growing, with greenhouse facilities being built across the country.

“Things are changing,” Engelbart McKenzie said.

“We need to understand that things are moving forward,” she continued. “We know the government is going to make changes. We want to be ahead of that curve here in Alberta and in the region. So, we’re really looking at it as an opportunity.”

The target completion date for the facility is October 2017.

READ MORE: How will legal pot be sold? Three things that might happen, and one that won’t

Currently, the company supplies medicinal marijuana to about 10,000 customers. It is preparing for a future when it’s expected the recreational use of the cannabis will be legalized.

The federal government has said it will legalize recreational marijuana by spring 2017, which mean Canadians will be able to legally buy marijuana to use purely for pleasure next year.

A CIBC report earlier this year estimated the size of the national recreational cannabis market at up to $10 billion.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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