From the “mother room” where baby buds begin to the glass ceiling that melts snow and reuses the water, the Aurora Sky cannabis facility in Leduc is harnessing efficiency and innovation to build a very green future.
Construction crews are still working out final details on the 800,000-square-foot facility near the Edmonton International Airport, but it has been producing medical cannabis since receiving its licence in January.
CBC News on Tuesday toured Aurora Sky, one of two Alberta facilities owned by Aurora Cannabis. The company’s other production facility, Aurora Mountain, is located near Cremona, Alta.
The demand for retail cannabis is expected to increase when it becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17. Already, the company has already sent legal product to be sold in provinces and territories across the country, said Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Aurora Cannabis.
“We’re ready for our sales inspection and our sales licence, which we hope is imminent,” said Battley. “We anticipate being at full capacity at Aurora Sky by the beginning of 2019. At that point, we’re going to be producing more than 8,000 kilograms of high-quality cannabis per month, right here at this facility.”
That’s a harvest of 100,000 kilograms of cannabis each year.
The life cycle of a cannabis bud starts in a 34,000-square-foot space called the mother room. Pieces of the plant are cut to create clones, which are moved into one of 16 flower rooms to eventually grow buds.
A full flower room will contain cannabis valued as much as $15 million, Battley said.
“Every eight weeks, we take down a harvest and we replant the rooms,” he said. “This allows us to get better than six grow-cycles per year at this facility whereas a traditional greenhouse, you’d get maybe two or three grow-cycles per year.”
The facility currently grows eight different strains of cannabis, which are a mix of indica, sativa and hybrids.
The building features a glass ceiling allowing natural sunlight onto the flowering plants during the day plus interior lights for use at night.
“In the winter, we have snow melters that allow us to not only take the snow off the roof but actually capture it and put it in our retaining pond,” Battley said.
Legalization will cause a boom in retail demand, but Battley considers international medical markets to be the company’s largest economic opportunity.
Aurora Cannabis has a third Canadian facility, Aurora Vie, in Quebec. It plans to build another larger Alberta facility — Aurora Sun — in Medicine Hat, Alta.
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.