Manitoba

GrowForce, Peguis team up to grow cannabis near Selkirk, Man.

A Canadian cannabis company building a massive production facility in Winnipeg has set its sights on expansion in the Selkirk area.

National company also developing legal grow-op in St. Boniface

GrowForce Holdings and Peguis First Nation will collaborate to grow cannabis in the Selkirk area. (Ellen Jaskol/GrowForce)

A Canadian cannabis company building a massive production facility in Winnipeg has set its sights on expansion in the Selkirk area.

GrowForce Holdings and Peguis First Nation are announcing their joint venture at a news conference today, which officials say will lead to "local investment, significant job creation and long-term economic development" for the First Nation and the Selkirk area.

New facilities will be built "in or near" Selkirk, a news release states. 

Pat Witcher, vice-president of strategic partnerships for GrowForce, told CBC News the initial plan is to build a production facility — which would be the firm's fourth legal grow-op in Canada.

He credits low electricity rates, central location and the relationships they've fostered with First Nations partners for enticing the company to Manitoba.

The firm expects to hire 75 to 150 people in the Selkirk region. Construction would likely start in early 2019 and the square footage of the facility is not yet known, he said.

Retail, distribution models

Beyond plans to build a legal cannabis farm, GrowForce officials don't know the number of facilities they might build in the area, their size or their purpose.

"We're looking at opportunities in retail as that comes online and distribution models for the medical side," he said. 

The announcement was made on National Indigenous Peoples Day to honour the spirit of reconciliation, according to the news release.

Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson said the band considered various partnerships before settling on GrowForce. He likes the firm's knowledge of the industry and vision to develop a nationwide seed-to-sale cannabis strategy in collaboration with First Nations and Indigenous peoples.

GrowForce is currently renovating a 120,000 sq. ft. facility in St. Boniface for the purposes of building their "flagship cannabis cultivation facility" in Winnipeg. It will bring 150-200 jobs to the city.

GrowForce is also building cannabis facilities in Brampton, Ont., and Dunnville, Ont.​

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese reports from the Manitoba Legislature for CBC Manitoba. He previously wrote for the Brandon Sun and the Carillon in Steinbach. Story idea? Email ian.froese@cbc.ca.