Tilray, medical marijuana producer, brings in big bucks for Nanaimo

A federally-licenced medical marijuana producer in Nanaimo, B.C., is contributing so much to the local economy that city council has approved a proposal to quintuple the size of the facility, according to the city's mayor.

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay says Tilray has generated millions of dollars for the local economy

Inside a medical marijuana facility. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

A federally-licenced medical marijuana producer in Nanaimo, B.C., is contributing so much to the local economy that city council has approved a proposal to roughly quintuple the size of the facility.

"At this particular point in time, [Tilray has] contributed about $3.2 million in direct wages in just over a year in operations, and they will continue to do so," Mayor Bill McKay told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"When they are involved in their building process … 95 per cent of the contractors were locals, so you can imagine when you're going from a 65,000 square foot-facility to a 265,000 square foot-facility — that's good jobs, that's great impact."

According to a report released on Wednesday by the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, Tilray generated $48.1 million in total economic output and fostered 395 jobs during the construction and operation phase last year. 

Tilray opened in Nanaimo last April, and it serves roughly 4,000 clients. It currently employs more than 140 people, but that number is expected to increase significantly once the facility expansion is completed

McKay says there were initial concerns from locals about the potential smell from a grow-op, but the fact that the facility is located in an industrial area, away from residences, has eased those worries.

Security is also not a problem, McKay said.

"From what I can see on a tour of the facility, it's almost like the Bank of Canada — it's so strict, if you will," he said. "You can't get anywhere near that facility."

McKay expects the new, larger facility to generate $20 million in tax revenue a year for all three levels of government. He says construction will likely finish within 18 months.

To hear the full interview with Bill McKay, listen to the audio labelled: Nanaimo medical marijuana facility is huge boost to local economy

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