KAMLOOPS — The City of Williams Lake is hoping to cash in once marijuana becomes legal in Canada July 1.
Earlier this month, city council unanimously endorsed the idea of supporting the production of cannabis.
"We're very excited to dovetail into the provincial and the federal governments initiative to legalize cannabis production," says City Councillor Scott Nelson. "We've taken a position here in Williams Lake that we want to diversify our economy, create jobs, create new taxation, create a new industry by supporting the cannabis industry and look for production facilities in Williams Lake."
Nelson says the City of Williams Lake has a lot of land available in its industrial site and says investors are lining up for a piece of the action.
"Today I picked up several investors that flew in yesterday, we've got two more coming in on Thursday and two on Friday. So, there's a real opportunity for Williams Lake to be a leading edge on this," Nelson says. "And some of those investors coming to town have got licenses in hand so we're looking at between 200 to 400 jobs, good-paying jobs with a significant tax diversification as well so we're very, very excited."
He says cannabis is currently a $7 billion industry in Canada and "they are projecting it to be a $25 billion industry in five years" which means lots of opportunities for the Central Cariboo town of roughly 11,000 people.
"There's research development, there's scientific development, there's marketing behind it, there's packaging, the opportunities are huge."
Nelson estimates production facilities in its industrial site would range in size from 16 to 20 acres while facilities would be a minimum of 100,000 square feet.
He says investors have told the city they want to be in the ground this year and producing.
So, what kind of public feedback has Nelson received?
"Probably out of 100 to 150 people I've talked to in the last week, not one has said 'no, you're crazy.' Most people have said this is fantastic, let's move forward, let's diversify our economy, let's create jobs."
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