Shawn Galbraith is in the process of purchasing 98 acres of farmland
By Diego Flammini
If a Saanich, B.C. businessman’s next venture is successful, he could own one of the country’s largest marijuana operations.
Shawn Galbraith, founder and CEO of Evergreen Medicinal Supply, hopes to purchase 98 acres of farmland from Stanhope Dairy Farm for about $12 million. His long-term plans include building 21 greenhouses on the site to grow marijuana.
He’s already received approval from Health Canada to build a 150,000-square-foot greenhouse that comes with a price tag of $25 million.
Central Saanich council needs to approve the application before construction can begin.
The land falls under the Agricultural Land Reserve, but the Agricultural Land Commission does not have authority to regulate how the land is used. And Christy Clark’s provincial Liberal government approved the growth of medical cannabis on ALR land.
The total project could cost upwards of $500 million, but Galbraith is confident the benefits outweigh the production costs.
“I think (the marijuana facility) is an excellent use of this valley,” he told CTV News on Monday. “I think that to be able to generate billions (of dollars) in revenue and literally thousands of jobs.”
And Galbraith doesn’t seem to be exaggerating with his billion-dollar assessment.
Canada’s marijuana industry could be worth about $22.6 billion annually, according to a report by accounting firm Deloitte.
Despite the potential within the marijuana industry, however, other B.C. producers would rather see young farmers on the land.
“It should be farmland, period (and) it should be used for farmers,” Frans Winkel, a pig farmer who owns land near Galbraith’s proposed site, told CTV News. “Even if they cut it up into smaller pieces for young farmers who want to experience farming. That’s what it’s all about.”
Some residents also worry about increased traffic, odours and pollution.
“Those are big concerns for people in the area because we’ve been through it once before (with a compost facility at Stanhope Dairy Farm that saw its owners bring in food scraps and construction debris),” resident Doug Fulton told The Times Colonist yesterday. “Once the project starts, (residents) have no leverage.”