LITCHFIELD – Despite rumours that LiveWell Foods Canada Inc., the organization planning to construct a Global Innovation Centre and marijuana growing facility in Litchfield, has gone belly-up, Livewell officials claim all is well and progressing, despite a possible change in direction. “We are still committed to the global innovation centre and are definitely not walking away,” said Deborah Stokes, Livewell Media Relations Agent.
Livewell officially acquired a 450 acre portion of the former Smurfit-Stone property near Portage-du-Fort in late April 2018 from Nova Scotia Company, an affiliate
of Wakefield Properties, an American real-estate development company. Although they originally planned to have construction on one million square feet of greenhouses well underway by October and be in operation this year, a lack of construction and activity at the site has concerned local residents, paired with news of unpaid contractors.
Steve Archambault, Livewell Chief Financial Officer, said new Health Canada regulations allowing outdoor growing is the reason for the stall at the Litchfield site. He explained that because growing outside is much more cost effective than building greenhouses and growing indoors, the company is taking a pause to reassess their strategy in order to “ensure long-term success”. According to Archambault, the company will likely adopt a mixed approach where a portion of their crop is grown indoors and the remaining outdoors; the ratio is undetermined at the moment.
Archambault admitted the company “may have been slow in terms of paying
suppliers” because of the scale of investment required and the need to secure opportunities, but that everyone will be paid. “We are financially stable,” he emphasized.
Although he couldn’t give an exact time frame of when operations will begin again, Archambault said it will be in the “near future”. According to Livewell, about 90% of the site preparation and clean-up has been done and they recently hired 31 new employees to work out of their Gatineau headquarters. “We are definitely alive and well and things are happening,” concluded Stokes.