British Columbia

Medical marijuana company takes over Vancouver rooftop garden

A Montreal medical marijuana company has taken over a high-tech greenhouse garden on the roof of a downtown Vancouver parking lot after the previous project collapsed under its debt.

Affinor to revive dream of downtown Vancouver rooftop greenhouse but say they won't be growing pot

Montreal-based medical marijuana company Affinor plans to grow baby greens and strawberries in these rooftop greenhouses. (Jason Proctor/CBC)

A Montreal-based medical marijuana company plans to revive a controversial rooftop greenhouse project that drowned in debt after being embraced by Vancouver city hall.

Affinor says it has closed a deal to purchase technology and assets which once belonged to Alterrus. The company says it has also secured the same cut-rate deal to lease the top floor of a city-owned parking garage.

But spokesperson Nick Brusatore says Affinor plans to grow baby greens and strawberries, not medical marijuana.

"The reality is we're not planning on doing marijuana on the roof, unless the city comes to us and says 'Hey, we want you to grow marijuana here,'" he says. "I will do and accommodate the city of Vancouver any way that they wish."

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the unveiling of Alterrus' first rooftop crop in November 2012. But financial problems forced the publicly-traded company into bankruptcy earlier this year. Brusatore says Affinor has much deeper pockets.

North America's first VertiCrop farm was built on the roof of a parkade in downtown Vancouver in November 2012. (Alterrus)

Alterrus had a 10-year deal with the city to lease the top floor of a parkade in the 500 block of Richards for $4800 a month. Brusatore says the new owners have the same agreement. 

Affinor plans to expand the greenhouse operations, using the old equipment to grow baby greens and new structures to cultivate strawberries. Brusatore says the company has met with city staff. He hopes to have the greenhouses back in operation within two months.

Affinor also recently acquired Vertical Designs Ltd, a company which specializes in vertical farming. Brusatore says the company wants to market that technology, along with Alterrus' old greenhouse patents, to capture the market for medical marijuana cultivation.

"We are going to licence that technology out for the marijuana markets throughout North America," he says. "Affinor grows plants. We are going to be the best in the world at creating the best plant tissue on a mass production scale."

No one from the City of Vancouver could be reached for comment.

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