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YK cannabis facility to use solar power, water recapture

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The Yellowknife resident planning a new cannabis production facility for the city says it can overcome the high cost of doing business in the North, and construction will start this summer.

This week, city councillors fast-tracked approval of Harker's plan to use an Engle business district lot for the facility.

Now he's working on the federal licensing required to open up.

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In an email, Harker said he envisages a 10,000-square foot facility. Earlier, he told councillors the business would create up to a dozen full-time jobs and 20 to 25 part-time positions.

"This is something that has been on my radar since the talk of legalization, and the possibility of the federal government making production licences available," Harker told Cabin Radio.

"Witnessing the market since legalization has only strengthened my belief that a production facility in the NWT can be viable and successful."

While councillors expressed enthusiasm for the project, the business must contend with Yellowknife's high cost of energy as it seeks viability and a competitive product.

"Operating a facility of this type has its challenges, energy consumption-wise, for sure," said Harker.

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"This makes the implementation of technology and efficient growing practices that are available to us so important. Our costs will be generally higher than facilities down south, so we just have to be that more invested in finding efficiencies where we can. The use of solar power, water recapturing technology, and high-efficiency LED lighting will be a large part of this."

Harker hopes the facility becomes "a model for energy efficiency in cannabis production" as a result.

"This is a huge goal for us, and a big part of our business model," he said. "We want to provide the NWT with a high-quality product, and a product selection that caters to both the therapeutic and recreational markets."

Discussions with the territorial government about becoming a supplier have not yet begun, said Harker, but will take place as the business moves through its licensing process.

"We have engaged with compliance consultants and began the [federal] application process in late 2018," he said. "Obtaining the licence is a process and requires an extreme amount of work, but we have managed to to get a lot done in the past few months.

"We will be breaking ground and beginning construction this summer."