By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb. 17, 2014
A vertical farming entrepreneur is leaving Squamish and planning to set up his farm in Langley.
Nick Brusatore planned a “Plant Science Hub” in the 6.5 acres in the building across from the log sort on Loggers Lane in downtown Squamish.
The farm was supposed to be in operation by the end of 2013, but the financing and the cost of the operation proved too high, he said.
The operation, one of the biggest of its kind in B.C., would have created more than 15 jobs in the community.
“We had the land option, but when we did the numbers, it didn’t work,” he said.
“If there was a land that we could be given and put on the balance sheet as an equity, that would be a whole other program.”
He said Squamish was quite accommodating, but financing and land cost issues is forcing him to look at other options like Langley.
Last year, Brusatore said the farming operation could be one of the largest vertical gardens of its kind in the province, producing tens of thousands of herbs and vegetables like spinach and lettuce. .
But along with tens of thousands of veggies, the conditions were also ripe to test and produce standardized and safe marijuana that meets all the government protocols and safety regulations.
Brusatore had applied for the R and D permit from the federal government.
Meanwhile, the owner of the land where Brusatore planned his vertical farming operation said the land could still be used for medical marijuana operation.
After debating on it several times, Squamish council have finally decided that medical marijuana will now be permitted on areas zoned industrial or light industrial.
At a regular council meeting on Feb. 4, Squamish council had decided to rescind an earlier decision of Dec. 10 to amend the district’s zoning bylaw to prohibit the use of any land for medical marijuana grow operators.
The Dec. 10 decision emanated from public concerns about marijuana production and smell in downtown Squamish.
As part of an omnibus amendment in December, staff had also recommended that council maintain medical marijuana production on industrial and light industrial, but restrict it in downtown and Oceanfront peninsula lands.
But this Tuesday (Feb.04), in a unanimous vote, council decided to do away with those concerns and not restrict its production in any specific zone in Squamish.
“We are supposed to be open to business, and I get anxious when we are banning something,” said Coun. Bryan Raiser.
Coun. Susan Chapelle said she wasn’t supportive of banning one industry over the other.
“Any bio-medical facility should be welcomed in town,” she said.
Its welcome news for those who wish to rent their property downtown to marijuana production.
A downtown land owner who spoke on the condition of anonymity said he welcomes the council decision.
“Our taxes are through the roof, and this opens up an economic possibility for land owners,” he said.