Edmonton airport area banking on massive new marijuana facility taking off

The construction of a massive new medical marijuana facility at the Edmonton International Airport has politicians hoping it leads to more business investment.

'I think other businesses ... see this and realize this is a great place to invest,' says minister

An aerial view shows a portion of the 800,000-square-foot site of the Aurora Sky medical marijuana facility. (Emilio Avalos/CBC)

Aurora Cannabis showed off the construction of its new 800,000-square-foot medical marijuana facility Friday, with local and provincial politicians betting the grow-op will be a boon to business investment near the Edmonton International Airport.

The facility is called Aurora Sky and is located on federal land with a prime view of the airport's runway.

The company is calling it the largest greenhouse of its kind and it's expected to produce more than 100,000 kilograms of marijuana per year.

The greenhouse of Aurora Sky is expected to start medical marijuana production in the fall. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Aurora executive vice-president Cam Battley says the facility is expected to create 200 to 300 jobs when fully operational.

Currently, the site consists of greenhouse framing, dirt, and plenty of heavy machinery. 

But local politicians in nearby Leduc and Nisku said they expect the facility's completion to draw other businesses to the area.

"I think other businesses and other ventures see this and realize this is a great place to invest," said Leduc-Beaumont MLA Shaye Anderson.

"We're seeing more and more of that as the weeks go by. Every week more people come to me and talk about different businesses looking to come here and bring their companies here. This is a massive investment for this region because it's exponentially going to grow with other businesses too."

A rendering shows the finished plan of the Aurora Sky medical marijuana facility, which is expected to be completed by spring 2018. (Aurora Cannabis)

Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke said this is a small step closer to building an "aerotropolis," a metropolitan area centred around an airport.

"It attracts interest from other large companies who think, 'OK, I've never thought of this region as a place where we could maybe expand and put a new plant.' " said Krischke. "That's what it means."

Aurora is expected to start growing marijuana in the greenhouse in the fall, while completion of the entire facility isn't expected until spring 2018.