Wildflower CEO William MacLean

Wildflower CEO William MacLean

Wildflower abandons medical marijuana production plant project in Nanoose Bay

Company CEO says he is optimistic about going forward with a project in Parksville industrial park

As it turns out, the grass is greener on the other side of the border.

Wildflower Marijuana CEO William MacLean confirmed Tuesday afternoon his company has moved its first application to set up a medical pot operation from Rivers’ Edge in Nanoose Bay to the City of Parksville.

“We are very excited to work with a progressive community like Parksville, one that sees the value of what we’re bringing to the community,” MacLean told The NEWS.

He said Health Canada indicated the company should withdraw their Nanoose Bay application and re-apply with the Parksville location — something that MacLean said “is already in the works.”

“The application for a MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) licence on land in Parksville has already been submitted to Health Canada,” he said.

“With our application having already been through numerous Health Canada reviews, we are optimistic that the Parksville location will be well received by Health Canada.”

In January, Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre confirmed the city secured a $20,000 non-refundable deposit from Wildflower to hold a piece of city-owned land in the industrial park, where the proposed pot facility is slated to go. City officials said if the project goes through, it will sit on a 20-acre parcel of land behind the city’s public works yard.

The size of the operation remains unknown but Lefebvre estimated it would create 50-70 jobs.

Moreover, Lefebvre sent a letter to Health Canada boasting his support for the facility.

“The City of Parksville recognizes the short and long term benefits to the local economy Wildflower will bring with an MMPR licence which includes capital spending, good paying full-time jobs and an increased tax base,” said Lefebvre in the letter dated Dec. 18, 2014.

Withdrawing the Nanoose Bay application comes six months after Rivers’ Edge residents first voiced loud opposition to the development of a medical marijuana facility in their neighbourhood.

And it’s welcome news for Rivers’ Edge resident Lehann Wallace who appeared to lead the fight against Wildflower.

“We knew from the very beginning that our concerns were serious and valid, and that our opposition to Wildflower Marijuana’s site selection in our residential neighborhood would prevail,” said Wallace. “We are very grateful it is now over.”

Still, Wallace said while the new MMPR legislation may present a positive change for the management of medical marijuana in Canada, the initial decisions by Health Canada and the Ministry of Agriculture of allowing MMPR facilities on any and all ALR lands in B.C. was void of important factors.

“These facilities are commercial in nature and therefore require suitable locations with the necessary industrial infrastructure and significant distance from residential properties and family oriented facilities,” she said.

The MMPR came into effect on April 1, 2014. The MMPR and its predecessor, the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR), provide the only legal means for Canadians, when supported by a physician, to access marijuana for medical purposes. Health Canada must approve a facility before it starts production.

According to the Health Canada website, there are 16 licensed producers in the country to date. Wildflower Marijuana is not yet on that list. Wildflower must get the green light from Health Canada before the company may proceed with development.

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