Council approves city’s first cannabis production plant

Herald file photo.

The legalized cannabis process has been long and extensive for Canadians, but city council wasted no time in approving the latest development.

Council unanimously voted to award Nuvomedic Cannabis Consulting Ltd. the Discretionary Use Development Permit necessary to begin construction on a new cannabis production plant to be located north of the river at 85 11th Street West.

Nuvomedic President and CEO Jamie Novotny was on hand to answer any questions, but council members seemed to have their minds made up before the meeting. The discussion and vote lasted less than two minutes.

“I feel like I have full support from the city so that we can now develop this project,” Novotny said afterwards. “(It’s) a big project, giving a lot of jobs to this community, and we’ve worked really hard all along, for the last two-and-a-half-years, actually, to develop this.”

Approval comes with two major conditions. First, Nuvomedic must have a valid license for production, which is not provided by the city. It must also have the Department of Planning and Development Services, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Community Services sign off on the proposal.

Once constructed, the production plant will produce cannabis for medicinal purposes only under their client care program and employ between 50 and 60 people by 2021 at the latest.

 Supportive “The fastest it ever could happen would be a year from now to production,” Novotny said. “We’re looking at a year-and-a-half to two years, which is normal through this licensing system.”

Novotny added that crime and environmental damage should not be major concerns. Nuvomedic already has a full private security team ready to guard the facility, and the plants will be grown in small contained rooms to keep the smell inside the building.

Those assurances were good enough for Prince Albert’s city council members, five of which met with Novotny privately to discuss their concerns.

“I was leery until I met with him and talked with him and got more information about it,” said Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick, who made the motion to approve Nuvomedic’s permit. “I think, as I said, that it’s a good development for our city.”

“It was inevitable that a company like this would probably come in and try and develop (a facility) added Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards. “What we have now is people locally who are knowledgeable about the product. That’s very positive, and the plan for development and jobs is certainly positive.”

Couns. Terra Lennox-Zepp and Evert Botha also expressed strong support for the proposal. Lennox-Zepp said she’s heard from her constituents that they liked the economic benefits of such a development, while Botha said it checked all the boxes the city looked for in this type of project.

Novotny no stranger to Prince Albert

Jamie Novotny is scheduled to become Prince Albert’s newest entrepreneur, but he’s no stranger to the city.

Novotny became interested in medicinal marijuana after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2015. He had previously been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008, and had already exceeded the maximum yearly dose of steroid pulse therapy. With nowhere else to turn, Novotny began using medical cannabis, and within three months he was seeing the reversal of many of his symptoms.

Both Novotny and his wife are originally from the Prince Albert area, so they decided to return home in 2015. Since then, he’s become a consultant on medicinal marijuana use, and helped develop a client care program that will be used in conjunction with the production plant.

“I went through university and came out two-and-a-half years ago, and that’s when we started developing this, because I took production and facility management, drug development, everything to cover all the bases.”