Move over Spruce City, there’s a new renewable resource looking to take over.
Well maybe not actually replace the importance the forest industry has to Prince George, but it could become a major player in northern B.C.
BC Hemp Corporation is planning a $350 million industrial hemp production site on 296 acres at the northeast corner of Johnson Road and the Old Cariboo Highway. In addition to that location, the company is already operating out of the old Ritchie Brothers Auction site and is developing a research facility on PG Pulpmill Road.
“It’s going to be life changing, it’s going to be world changing with what we want to try, and do,” said Michael Fazakas, BC Hemp CEO, to about 150 people gathered at the company’s new location in Prince George Wednesday. “We are holistically growing new possibilities within our community from a single plant. It’s as simple as that.”
BC Hemp is looking at all aspects of hemp production … from soil to a finished product. And it is going to do it in Prince George.
“I get chills just thinking about the amount of products, the amount of industries that we can deal into,” said Farakas. “This is truly a plant we can take from a seedling, to maturity and introduce it into industries.”
BC Hemp is part of HealX Medical Corporation which, over time, realized it needed a production arm to help deliver and produce hemp products.
The facility on PG Pulpmill Road site will include laboratories and production facilities where research and development will occur. Final product manufacturing, ranging from capsules to tinctures will be developed there.
The site on Old Cariboo Highway and Johnson Road will basically be an intake site from hemp hemp growers from around the region. At that location the hemp will also be separated into its different forms … oil, protein powders, or fibre. The site will house 195,000 square feet of buildings and will take three to four years to complete.
“We’re looking to, conservatively, provide about 1,500 jobs through this business model with wage of about $75 million,” Fazakas said.
They are planning to have local farmers grow hemp which, he said, will hopefully provide them with a better return than other crops.
Production will start within two years and focus on hemp fibre and grain. As part of the site, there will be a 100-acre test crop, testing different varieties of hemp and cultivation methods. The five-year plan is to have 300,000 acres production across Northern British Columbia.
BC Hemp is reaching out to First Nations, farmers and communities to develop:
- Educational programs
- Land leasing/renting and purchasing programs
- Methods to grow industrial hemp
- Community capacity to produce and sell hemp
- Secondary businesses which use hemp
Their focus will be on developing an organic and environmentally-focused ability to grow hemp. Having the production facility in Northern British Columbia will significantly increase the value of the hemp cultivated in the North.
The market for fibre and grain is both international and domestic.
BC Hemp also plans to build a pharmacy in College Heights, Helix Integrated Pharmacy, which will be part of a chain of pharmacies.
BC Hemp plans to encourage local entrepreneurs to use hemp to produce some of the over 55,000 products made from industrial hemp. They will sell the processed material at a very competitive rate to local businesses to achieve this goal. One of the advantages of growing industrial hemp and making products is that this captures CO2 from the environment. Currently, they are in early talks with UNBC to see just how much CO2 will be achieved by growing industrial hemp.
There are over 55,000 known products made from industrial hemp.
“We’re growing new possibilities within our communities, within our younger community,” he said. “It entrepreneurs that we need, it’s tertiary markets that we need, and it’s something that we would like to discuss … Nine times out of 10, hemp can and will be involved in the manufacture of a product.”