News / Edmonton

'I’ve never seen anything like this.' Aurora Cannabis weeding out global competition

The company's massive facility near EIA is growing closer to completion.

A rendering of Aurora Sky, a new 800,000-square-foot production facility Aurora Cannabis is constructing near Edmonton International Airport.

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Supplied by Aurora Cannabis

A rendering of Aurora Sky, a new 800,000-square-foot production facility Aurora Cannabis is constructing near Edmonton International Airport.

Forget about maple syrup and poutine, there’s a new product from the Great White North slated to hit the world market: Canadian cannabis.

Aurora Sky, the 800,000-square-foot marijuana production facility near Edmonton International Airport, has had about 80 per cent of its glass greenhouses erected, with six of their 17 planned growing bays completed.

Aurora Cannabis, the parent company, currently has a roughly 55,000-square-foot facility in Mountain View County. Each one of the growing bays at Aurora Sky will be bigger the entire growing space of their current operation. The company says it’s the world’s largest cannabis production facility.

But what the company’s executive vice president, Cam Battley, is most excited about is how Canada is slated to be a world leader in the medicinal cannabis industry.

“I’ve spent my whole career in biotech and pharma and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Battley said. “We are literally inventing a new industry in real time.”

One of the reasons Canada is set to be a world leader in selling medicinal cannabis is because of the reputation Health Canada has built for quality control.

“Because Canada has these established and licensed producers, that are so highly and successfully regulated by Health Canada, we’re trusted internationally,” Battley said.

But more importantly, pending legalization gives Canada a big advantage over its bigger neighbour the United States. Even though several states have legalized marijuana, it’s still illegal federally, which prevents states from growing marijuana in their home state and selling it abroad.

It also prevents them from accessing capital from the big banks.

Meanwhile, Aurora is already looking to get into the German market through their German-based subsidiary Pedanios.

“We are actually in the tender process right now to become a German domestic supplier.” Battley said.  

Aurora Sky will be a high-tech operation – the greenhouses are a Dutch closed-system design which gives precision over temperature, light, humidity and nutrients for the plants.

“This is not only going to be the world’s largest capacity cannabis production facility, but also the most advanced and high tech in the world,” Battley said.

No humans will be entering the greenhouses – the plants will be retrieved by robotic cranes to reduce any risk of contamination. The cranes also have cameras tied to software to identify if the plants are experiencing any signs of stress.

“We are using technologies here that have never been used in agriculture,” Battley said.

Aurora Sky is expected to reach full capacity by late 2018. The company will also be selling to the consumer market once legalization occurs.

As it stands, the only country presenting any kind of competition on the world scale for Canadian cannabis is the Netherlands. That’s something Battley is feeling good about.

“There’s a patriotic aspect to this that I feel very strongly about … Canada is by the far the leader in it.”

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