Aurora Sky's the limit at massive cannabis facility built to harness the power of the sun
Once fully operational, facility will produce 100,000 kg of cannabis each year
From the "mother room" where baby buds begin, to the glass ceiling that melts snow and reuses the water, the Aurora Sky cannabis facility in Leduc is harnessing efficiency and innovation to build a very green future.
Construction crews are still working out final details on the 800,000-square-foot facility near the Edmonton International Airport, but it has been producing medical cannabis since receiving its licence in January.
CBC News on Tuesday toured Aurora Sky, one of two Alberta facilities owned by Aurora Cannabis. The company's other production facility, Aurora Mountain, is located near Cremona, Alta.
The demand for retail cannabis is expected to increase when it becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17. The company has already sent legal product to be sold in provinces and territories across the country, said Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Aurora Cannabis.
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"We're ready for our sales inspection and our sales licence, which we hope is imminent," said Battley. "We anticipate being at full capacity at Aurora Sky by the beginning of 2019. At that point, we're going to be producing more than 8,000 kilograms of high-quality cannabis per month, right here at this facility."
That's a harvest of 100,000 kilograms of cannabis each year.
The life cycle of a cannabis bud starts in a 34,000-square-foot space called the mother room. Pieces of the plant are cut to create clones, which are moved into one of 16 flower rooms to eventually grow buds.
A full flower room will contain cannabis valued as much as $15 million, Battley said.
"Every eight weeks, we take down a harvest and we replant the rooms," he said. "This allows us to get better than six grow-cycles per year at this facility whereas a traditional greenhouse, you'd get maybe two or three grow-cycles per year."
The facility currently grows eight different strains of cannabis, which are a mix of indica, sativa and hybrids.
The building features a glass ceiling allowing natural sunlight onto the flowering plants during the day plus interior lights for use at night.
"In the winter, we have snow melters that allow us to not only take the snow off the roof but actually capture it and put it in our retaining pond," Battley said.
Legalization will cause a boom in retail demand, but Battley considers international medical markets to be the company's largest economic opportunity.
Aurora Cannabis has a third Canadian facility, Aurora Vie, in Quebec. It plans to build another larger Alberta facility — Aurora Sun — in Medicine Hat, Alta.