Pot producer buys London backyard heart for $6.7 million

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A marijuana producer touting London’s proximity to motorways and its large labor pool has bought a greenhouse on a sprawling lot south of the city.

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September 12, 2018September 12, 20183 minutes read Join the conversation Cannabis producer Beleave bought the Heritage Garden Gallery, which sits on 34 acres in south London, for $6.7 million. The Hamilton-based company plans to use the existing greenhouse to grow medical and recreational marijuana. DALE CARRUTHERS/THE LONDON FREE PRESS

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A marijuana producer touting London’s proximity to motorways and its large labor pool has bought a greenhouse on a sprawling lot south of the city.

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Hamilton-based Beleave Kannabis Inc. paid $6.7 million for 250,000 square feet of greenhouse space and 34 acres of land on Wellington Road where it plans to grow marijuana for the medical and recreational markets, the company says, a combination of cash , shares and financing to fund the deal.

Beleave has not disclosed the location of the property, but The Free Press has learned that it is the property that is home to the Heritage Garden Gallery, a family-run business that has been in business since 1988.

The owner of the legacy, Grace Boekestyn, said she and her husband listed the business two years ago in hopes a flower grower or garden center would buy it, but they didn’t get any offers until Beleave contacted them.

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“It was the right opportunity for us because we couldn’t anticipate selling it as our business,” she said. “We are very grateful for all the people who have supported our business and for all our loyal customers.”

Cannabis producer Beleave bought the Heritage Garden Gallery, which sits on 34 acres in south London, for $6.7 million.  The Hamilton-based company plans to use the existing greenhouse to grow medical and recreational marijuana.  DALE CARRUTHERS/THE LONDON FREE PRESS Cannabis producer Beleave bought the Heritage Garden Gallery, which sits on 34 acres in south London, for $6.7 million. The Hamilton-based company plans to use the existing greenhouse to grow medical and recreational marijuana. DALE CARRUTHERS/THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Beleave will commission the existing greenhouse in two phases before building two more on the property, where the company will also explore outdoor cultivation, said Grant McLeod, Beleave’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel.

“We have a number of options on the property,” McLeod said. “What it really does is give us the flexibility to consider all available growth options under the new legislation.”

McLeod highlighted the property’s competitive advantages, including access to London’s labor pool, abundant hydroelectric power, low-cost natural gas and proximity to major highways for shipping and receiving.

“The zoning is already intact,” he added. “This allows us to speed up the process a bit. . . and it also allows us to use existing infrastructure and potentially shorten our timelines as well.”

Canadian cannabis companies have been busy buying real estate, greenhouses and closed factories ahead of Oct. 17, when recreational marijuana becomes legal.

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The head of an umbrella organization for the cannabis industry says that greenhouse growing offers several cost-saving advantages over traditional indoor growing.

“Ontario is generally a high-cost environment when it comes to hydropower compared to other jurisdictions, and we live in a cold climate. The ultimate solution for growing premium cannabis is to use natural sunlight to some degree,” said Allan Rewak of the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry group that includes Beleave and some of the country’s largest marijuana producers, including Canopy. Tilray and Aurora.

“This is what makes greenhouse growing in Ontario so viable and exciting.”

Beleave will be the third cannabis company to arrive in London. Licensed producer Indiva is expanding its production facility on Hargrieve Road. Tilray, another licensed producer, is building a cannabis processing facility on Sovereign Road under its High Park banner.

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The chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce predicts that more cannabis companies will open in the city.

“You’re going to see a lot more activity, both on the growth side of this operation and on the distribution side,” said Gerry Macartney. “If (cannabis) is going to be legalized, then we really want private sector involvement in it.”

Beleave, which operates a 14,500 square foot indoor cultivation facility in Hamilton, has signed contracts to supply recreational cannabis in Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, where the Company will operate a retail store.

The London operation will employ dozens of people, although the exact number is not yet known, McLeod said.

“We’re going to be looking for a whole bunch of people,” he said.

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