Former Kitchener auto plant gets second life as a cannabis farm

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A former Kitchener, Ont. auto parts plant is revving up for its second act as a new, cutting-edge cannabis cultivation facility.

The retrofitting is being carried out at the behest of Canadian LP JWC Corp. and will be known as JWC 2. The facility has been designed to house up to 345,000 sq. ft. of growing space.

The LP had two important criteria for selecting a location for its facility, director of strategic initiatives Nicole Werth told Daily Commercial News. The plant needed to have a significant amount of power feeding into the building, and ceilings that were high enough to accommodate the company’s proprietary aeroponic GrowthSTORM, dual-droplet growing system.

“This building has both of these things,” Werth stated. “In addition to that, it is local to Kitchener-Waterloo, which is where our company began and where we would like to continue to grow. Moreover, our pilot facility is five minutes from this location, so that makes plant transfer, employee management and other aspects of operations much simpler and easier to handle,” she said.

The facility is home to eight custom “flowering” rooms, each measuring about 1,350 sq. ft.

The HVAC system also received a major overhaul to enable the LP to control environmental conditions, and insulated panels were strategically installed so crops can be grown in sterile, sealed surroundings.

The company is now completing Phase 2 of the construction, which includes the creation of six more flowering rooms of 5,750 sq. ft. each.

The project faced serious challenges in its renovation, the most significant being the former Lear Corp. plant’s advancing age. “Even to meet (the) snow load code, we have had to do a significant amount of structural reinforcement on the roof,” Werth said.

“Piping is old cast iron, (which was) rotten and clogged after so many years of use. So, we have had to cut up concrete flooring to replace entire runs of piping. We have (also) had to asbestos remediate in many places and update electrical, including a replacement of one of the main high-voltage lines into the facility,” she said.

The company received its a cultivation licence for the first construction phase this past March.

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