Construction begins on hemp plant

Emily Plihal
For South Peace News

Long-awaited construction has started for the hemp decortication plant that will be built on the outskirts of Donnelly on Highway 2, triggered by a ground-breaking ceremony held on June 24 at the site.
Smoky Hemp Decortication Ltd. [SHDL] has been working tirelessly for multiple years, with a goal to introduce an industry to the region that will provide an alternate crop for farmers to grow, a location for them to sell their product with limited transportation, and a business that will help boost economic
development and create new jobs in the Smoky River Region.
SHDL CEO Avis Gagne says the work has officially commenced, with site preparation in the works on land SHDL is leasing from Frank Cote southwest of Donnelly.
“We have worked long and hard researching, putting together the business plans and projections for our decortication facility and until now, our goal has only existed as a vision,” says Gagne.
“With breaking ground at the site of the plant, that vision has now become a reality we can see.”
SHDL’s goal is to have the business completely operational by summer 2023, but they are already purchasing hemp from local farmers to have a supply ready to decorticate once equipment is received and installed. As Gagne explains, the site preparation is a symbol of the plant’s construction coming to fruition.
“The site preparation might seem a small step toward completing the facility and get running and processing, but it is one anyone driving by can see,” says Gagne, noting that the ground-breaking represents a huge step forward for SHDL and for the region.
“Building from the ground up is what we always knew we would have to do.”
Alberta Hemp Alliance [AHA] executive director Manny Deol exudes excitement when he talks about the decortication plant being erected in Donnelly, saying this helps to diversify the provincial economy, helps with carbon sequestration, and creates jobs in rural Alberta.
“Smoky Hemp Decortication plant is definitely a model for development of the hemp industry in Alberta,” says Deol.
“This is an example of community economic development, community taking charge of embracing the emerging hemp industry. Municipality, farming community and industry with local investment is a great story which cane be replicated in every corner of Alberta,” he adds.
Deol says that AHA will be sharing SHDL’s case in their marketing package for hemp development in the province.
Along with the ground-breaking ceremony, SHDL provided lunch to invited guests [including special
guests MLAs Todd Loewen and Mark Smith, M.D. of Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu and Village of Donnelly Mayor Myrna Lanctot] and a tour of a hemp field.
The next step is construction of the business that will occur sometime in August.
SHDL is still looking for farmers to grow hemp and has some investment opportunities for those interested. If you would like more information contact Gagne at
“George Bernard Shaw said, “Don’t wait for opportunity. Create it,” Gagne says. “We believed we could take our vision and create a reality, and here we are, doing it!”

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