Penticton resident and owner of Poplar Grove Winery, Tony Holler, is preparing to build what would be the province's largest medical cannabis facility in the South Okanagan.
A 700,000 square-foot greenhouse is proposed to be built in the Osoyoos Indian Band's Senkulmen Business Park, and will produce about 125,000 kilograms of medical cannabis annually.
"And it's a purpose-built facility. It's not made for growing something else. It's specifically for growing cannabis, and high-quality cannabis," Holler said.
The facility is expected to be a "high-technology" greenhouse made with material from the Netherlands, which is compliant with federal good-manufacturing practices.
He said it will be environmentally friendly by using the energy of the sun to grow cannabis as well as technology to control factors such as humidity, oxygen and nutrients.
As for the location, Holler said the Oliver area is "almost the ideal area in Canada" to build a greenhouse facility.
"And the (Senkulmen Business Park) is serviced with everything — water, electricity, they even have geothermal."
Holler, who is a physician by trade, founded Sunniva Inc. in 2014. Apart from the 'Sunniva Canada Campus' planned near Oliver, his company is also in the process of building a similarly-sized cannabis greenhouse in California's Coachella Valley.
"These are the largest markets in the world, and they both require the same thing — high-quality, low-cost cannabis. And the only way you can do that in my mind is having purpose-built facilities that use technology," Holler said.
He said the lease agreement is still being finalized with the OIB, and that the application is in the final review stage of Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.
Holler hopes construction can begin this spring and that operations can begin in the spring of 2019. He expects to employ about 200 people.
No one from the OIB was able to be reached for comment.