On Friday morning, the Town of Taber officially broke ground on Canada’s first-ever craft cannabis and hemp supply chain, the Grasslands Taber Collaborative’s (GLTC) Premium Park project.
The park will offer cannabis and agri-food production, research, development and processing, as well as a number of spaces for producers and other businesses to rent.
“It’s going to be a premium park focused on premium cannabis, or craft cannabis, premium-infused products,” said GLTC CEO Lindsay Blackett.
“We’re going to attract — and we’ve got interest from — a lot of international companies, some U.S. companies.”
The GLTC Premium Park will occupy 60 acres in Taber’s Eureka Industrial Park, along Highway 36, with facilities and services that include cultivation, extraction, processing and distribution.
According to GLTC, the park will offer a state-of-the-art extraction facility that will be certified by Health Canada, European Union Good manufacturing process (GMP) and Natural Health Product (NHP) for both cannabis and hemp.
Joanne Sorensen, president of the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement is a massive win for the town.
“Recently, with the downturn in the economy, we were seeing businesses moving out and businesses getting really slow,” she said.
“It’s a huge boost for the local economy to see someone actually moving in.”
Taber has historically been cautious of the cannabis business.
Just last year, a contentious 4-3 council vote narrowly allowed dispensaries to operate in the town.
But town officials were throwing their support behind the project at Friday’s announcement.
“This is nothing but a win-win situation for Taber and area, when you get a new business like this that is going to staff some 200-300 people,” said Mayor Andrew Prokop, who emphasized the opportunity to diversify the local economy.
Phyllis Monks, the town’s director of Planning and Economic Development, believes the rest of the town will benefit from the impact of the park.
“We’re going to see some trickle-down effect for our existing businesses. We want to keep our existing business moving forward and growing as well, and that’s just healthier for Taber as a whole.”
The project is expected to create as many as 200 jobs once construction begins in the spring, and Sorensen believes the town could also see an influx of as many as 500 families moving to the Taber area.
“Moving here, building new homes or renting,” she said, “and hopefully more and more investment comes to follow.”
The GLTC has 25 lots for sale — ranging from 1.5 to five acres — and will include a retail mall.