Avon Valley Floral plans rebuild after greenhouse storm damage

The head of Avon Valley Floral says he’s trying to prepare for any excessive snowfall this winter and says his business will re-build despite the millions lost.

Heavy snow and ice damaged about 3 hectares of property last winter

Avon Valley Floral wasn't able to finish cleaning up all the debris from last winter's storm this year, but say they were able to meet customers' demands. (CBC)

One of Nova Scotia's largest greenhouse operations is still dealing with the cleanup of last winter's storm damage, which destroyed about two dozen of the company's buildings. 

Avon Valley Floral in Falmouth, N.S., lost greenhouses covering about two hectares when the plastic and glass structures buckled and collapsed under the weight of snow and ice last winter. The weather also put another hectare's worth of buildings out of commission.

Despite losing 70 per cent of its plant-production capacity, president and CEO Kevin White says the company, which supplies florists and garden centres, is committed to continuing operations. 

He says they're looking at the rebuilding process as an opportunity to modernize the facilities. 

When many of the original greenhouses were built they were designed to cater to cut flowers year-round. He says the goal now is to modernize the facilities so they're better suited to grow for spring garden centres. 

"As we rebuild, what we're doing is putting 10 years of restructuring plan into a couple [years]," he said. "As much as it's going to cost a lot of money, we're certainly very optimistic to being more efficient and more tailored to new markets."

Over the summer and fall, crews removed debris and demolished what was left of some of the greenhouses. There's still heaps of mangled beams and shattered windows.

White says the business was able to meet customers' needs this year, getting some assistance from the company's facility in Sussex, N.B. He still hopes to recuperate some of the lost revenue through insurance that covers business interruptions. 

Greenhouse Nova Scotia says it is still hoping for some compensation for growers under federal programs. 

While apple and maple producers are eligible to receive some compensation when weather impacts productions, damage to greenhouses is considering infrastructure, and that's not covered, according to Yvonne Thyssen-Post, the organization's co-ordinator. 

White says the damage to his business is in the millions, but he's not ready to throw in the towel. 

"We've got a family of employees here that we take great responsibility for and there's a great business here. We just have to pick ourselves up and deal with the disaster." 

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