Food company sets sights on Outaouais town for massive pot facility
LiveWell Canada preparing to open cannabis centre in Litchfield, Que.
A Canadian food production company has chosen Litchfield, Que., as its site for a major cannabis research, innovation and production centre — one that could bring 500 jobs to the small Pontiac town.
LiveWell Canada is transforming a former pulp and paper mill in the community west of Shawville into a nearly 600,000 square-foot facility, one that could potentially begin operations in 2019.
"What we found, with the Pontiac, was an area that needed economic development, that needed support. And I think it was a beautiful connection," said David Rendimonti, the company's president.
"I think it was something where we could come into a community — that has welcomed us very much — … and then grow within that community."
Hard times lately
Litchfield has roughly 450 residents, so the LiveWell Canada facility could potentially double the town's population once it opens.
The company gave Radio-Canada an exclusive tour of the site, which is still in the early stages of coming together.
"There's a lot more work that has to be done here, but a lot of work has been done already," said Seann Poli, LiveWell Canada's director general.
"This will be a good year of construction at least."
Colleen Larivière, the mayor of Litchfield, said the decline of the forest industry has made the past few years difficult for Quebec's Pontiac region, one of the poorest areas of the province.
We have to survive in the Pontiac, and it's huge what's coming.- Mayor Colleen Larivière
Larivière told Radio-Canada that the LiveWell's proposed facility could turn the local economy around.
"We have to survive in the Pontiac, and it's huge what's coming," she said in a French-language interview.
"We will try to work together."
In addition to growing marijuana, LiveWell plans to use the "flagship cornerstone operation" to develop various alternative products, including cannabis oil, Rendimonti said.
LiveWell is still in the process of getting Health Canada approval to grow cannabis on the site, but the company has already relocated its headquarters from Ottawa to Gatineau.
With files from Antoine Trepanier