Whole area will benefit from decortication plant

Emily Plihal
South Peace News

Village of Donnelly will be welcoming an industrial hemp decortication plant to the community, a business that is expected to be in full operation by summer 2023.
The facility’s structure had its first substantial progress last week with building supplies arriving on site, with the building expecting to be fully erected by end of month.
Donnelly’s Mayor Myrna Lanctot says the village and other municipalities in the Smoky River Region are excited about the possibilities the facility will bring in its wake.
“The plant benefits the region as a whole. I always say whenever there is a new business within the Smoky River Region, all municipalities benefit,” says Lanctot. “All businesses have spin off value. One new job could mean a whole new family, two more adults and perhaps children that may go to school, eat, sleep, play, and add to the community.”
Lanctot says the opportunity was first presented to council and CAO by the Smoky River Regional Economic Development Officer Diane Chiasson. The investors of the plant then approached council and the process was then put into action.
“Taxpayers will benefit, as well as the whole region, not only in the increased tax base but also in the increased job opportunities,” says Lanctot. “The new business will bring jobs and opportunity for further growth and prosperity.”
Smoky Hemp Decortication Ltd. (SHDL) includes Avis Gagne, Dan and Melissa Labrecque, Norman Boulet, and Francois Cote. Their team has worked tirelessly to ensure the facility would be an economic driver to help curb population loss issues that the region has been experiencing.
Globally, hemp is emerging as a material alternative to produce a variety of items including industrial and consumer textiles, building materials, paper, foods, personal hygiene items and even bedding for animals and mulch/compost. The investors of SHDL see the potential to expand, hoping that their decortication plant will attract a hemp cluster of businesses to the area.
“This is an opportunity to capitalize on the potential of what is produced by our farmers. The real economic driver, and potential to be a screaming success, is (found in) processing our own product here,” explains SHDL CEO Avis Gagne, noting that for more than three years the team has been researching tirelessly to ensure the success of their initiative. “At every point, between crop buyer and the consumer, there is profit. Processing facilities do exist and are thriving in this province. We believe it can and should be done right where the crops are grown, and we think Industrial Hemp processing will provide that opportunity. Our goal is to provide growers and others, right here, with the opportunity to be involved and benefit every step of the way.”
In addition to the economic opportunities associated with the introduction of hemp and decortication facility in the region, the crop will also present an incomparable environmental benefit. It is noted that an acre of industrial hemp can sequester as much as 2 metric tons of carbon dioxide in only 4 months of growing. This could play a significant role in meeting global greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, while providing agricultural producers an opportunity to have an extra crop in their rotation and potentially increasing their farm revenue.
The anticipation of attracting a hemp cluster of businesses to the area is recognized by councils throughout the region and is expected to help ensure current services can be retained and flourish.
“Every new position or job that is filled provides a spin-off for other businesses, from shopping to sports and recreation facilities,” says Lanctot. “We hope it will result in increased development at Donnelly Corner, which is uniquely positioned for growth within the region and Northern Alberta.”
Lanctot says Donnelly council is always open to view new opportunities that will enhance its village and the rest of the region.

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