Notifications

Toronto cannabis company sets sights on west Saint John for lab

A Saint John neighbourhood known for its world-famous brewery could also be a hot spot for testing medical cannabis.

Research and testing lab proposed for Lancaster Avenue office building could create up to 25 jobs

The T4G building in west Saint John, now proposed for a cannabis testing lab, has also been a grocery store and school board offices. (Julia Wright / CBC)

A Saint John neighbourhood known for its world-famous brewery could also be a hot spot for testing medical cannabis.

Toronto-based Nuuvera Corp. is seeking public input on "a research and testing lab for cannabis" at 384 Lancaster Ave. in west Saint John, said Rick Turner of Hughes Surveys and Consultants Inc.

The company is providing surveying and planning services for the proposed lab, which would be used for testing a product.

"It's an oil-based product used for medical purposes that will be developed on the site," he said.

The 25,000-square-foot, commercially zoned building once housed the Dominion Supermarket and school board offices. The proposal is to retrofit the property as a lab for "cannabis testing, extraction, and cannabinoid purification," according to the company.

The property is now home to the tech company T4G and is listed for sale at $1.2 million.   

'High end' jobs

Nuuvera bills itself as a "global cannabis and industrial hemp conglomerate ... with an active strategy in over 10 countries and a growing portfolio of cultivation, production and sales licenses."

Its CEO, tech entrepreneur Lorne Abony, has made headlines in New Brunswick as the owner of a $6.9 million mansion in Utopia that has sat on the market for years.

Lorne Abony, CEO of Nuuvera Corp., which bills itself as a 'global cannabis and industrial hemp conglomerate.' (Wikipedia)

ARA-Avanti Rx Analytics Inc., a subsidiary of Nuuvera Corp., is included on the federal government's list of 33 laboratories with a dealer's licence under the narcotic control regulations and who are licensed to conduct "activities," including testing, with cannabis.

The testing lab would employ 20 to 25 people, Turner said.

"They are high-end jobs [for] people with pharmaceutical backgrounds. I know they would certainly be in the high pay-scale range."

According to its website, Nuuvera Corp. is in the last stage of the Health Canada process to become a licensed producer of cannabis.  

Nuuvera did not respond to a request for comment.

Letter to neighbours

Karen Gallant has lived nearby on Havelock Street for 15 years.

Last week, she received a letter outlining the plans for the building, and inviting her and other neighbours to a public meeting on Jan. 10.

In addition to the security concerns associated with having large quantities of cannabis processed and delivered on the site, she said, she has questions about pollution.

A letter was sent last week to residents within 100-metres radius of 384 Lancaster Avenue. (Julia Wright/ CBC)

"If they test it, does it go out in the air?" she asked. "Is it controlled? I don't want to smell it."

But Gallant said new jobs would be good.

"I'm an open-minded individual," she said. "If you look at it from a business perspective, legalizing marijuana in Canada is going to bring money and revenue to everyone — to the government, to everyone.

"It's going to create jobs."

Not a dispensary

Turner said it's important for residents to know that people won't be buying cannabis products on the site, about 900 metres from Moosehead Breweries.

"It's not a dispensary, it's a testing facility," he said of the proposed lab.

The public meeting for neighbours within 100 metres of the property will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at 384 Lancaster Ave. Representatives from Nuuvera will be available to answer questions.

"The neighbours are going to have questions about what they're going to be doing there, what changes there will be to the building, and what changes there will be to the site," said Turner.

"It's to get feedback from the neighbours and address questions as best we can."

Nuuvera will answer questions from neighbours of the proposed lab at a public meeting Wednesday at 384 Lancaster Ave. (Julia Wright / CBC)

'Just scratching the surface'

Nuuvera Corp. needs rezoning approval from the City of Saint John before the plan can proceed.

After seeking public input, the company will make a public presentation to common council on Jan 29. The public will have 30 days to provide comments.

If council chooses to consider Nuuvera's request to amend the Municipal Plan, the rezoning process will be referred to the Planning Advisory Committee in March.

A report will be made available to the public on April 13, according to Turner, before a public hearing before common council the following month.

The meeting on Wednesday is "just scratching the surface" of a "very rigorous, four-month Municipal Plan process," Turner said. 

About the Author

Julia Wright

Julia Wright is a reporter based in Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.