By Raven Nyman
With two new cannabis production facilities, robotic building technology, and affordable housing projects on the way, Mayor Ward Stamer expects that the District of Barriere is in for a busy year.
“Our building permits are up, we’ve got more and more people moving into the community and moving into the region every day,” said Stamer. “I think this year—2020—is going to be a pretty busy one. I think that we’re just about ready to pop.”
In November, Paradigm Building Solutions Ltd. (Paradigm) announced a fully automated manufacturing facility will open in Barriere’s Louis Creek Industrial Park (LCIP). Work is already underway at the 23,000 square foot facility, which plans to open in the summer of 2020 and will manufacture top-quality building components using high end robotics.
The company has invested in highly innovative technology that allows them to build open wall panels used in wood constructed buildings. Paradigm will also offer full Passive House and Net Zero housing development solutions, setting a standard for energy efficient living.
That’s not all that’s happening in Barriere’s LCIP this year, where unsold opportunities remain along the highway.
Stamer explained those lots remain unsold because of costs associated with the park’s water system: “We’re waiting. If the water system works properly, and everything’s great in the spring, then we’ll bring those lots for sale [because] when we sell those lots, we can use the money from the lot sales to put the infrastructure for the water in.”
“That’s kind of what’s hampered us in the past,” he recalled. “When we got the industrial park transferred over to the district’s name, we asked the premier at the time if the government would at least put in just a small water system so that the lots would be ready to go.”
Without government approval, Stamer said the District decided to wait for some of the lots to sell so that they could afford the installation of a water system at LCIP.
“Right now it looks like we’ll have enough money to put in the first water system. Then any additional lines or any additional improvements will have to come from moneys either from taxation generated from the industrial park or the sale of the other lots.”
There will also be a second cannabis facility opening in the LCIP in addition to the previously publicized marijuana establishment at the location.
“We have on the one side a new marijuana grower—you can see they’re putting up their inside greenhouses that will [produce] medicinal marijuana. I’m not sure if it’s going to be medicinal and recreational, but it’ll have THC.”
The second marijuana company’s lot was actually sold years ago, Stamer explained. He clarified that both facilities intend to grow indoors and said he hasn’t received any concerns about potential odour issues associated with the two facilities.
“From what I understand, there’s not supposed to be much… and again, it’s an industrial site. We’re quite a long ways from any residential settlements. That’s kind of the reason why there’s a separation between industrial parks and residential [areas] because of some of the negative effects that some of these businesses may have.”
Stamer doesn’t think odour will be a problem: “I think that it should work out really well. They should have something in the ground by the spring and I think their first crop will be done by the summertime. It will be interesting to see how well that works.”
With a surplus of economic activity ahead for 2020, Barriere’s mayor is most excited about Paradigm, which he says brings a tangible asset to the community.
“That’s something that’s going to be created. Their plans are to build 100 houses a year within two years. So those are significant jobs. I’ve said all along: I’m not going to stand on a box and say there’s going to be 30 or 40 or 50 jobs, because I really don’t know what the impact is going to be and they don’t either.”
With the robotic technology involved, Stamer said that no one can be sure how many employment opportunities will be created but he pointed out that the project will need to employ office administration staff, forklift operators, and various other positions.
“I don’t know how that’s going to transpire into full time employment. And they don’t either, but it’s going to be significant. That’s a lot of trucks coming in with product and that’s a lot of trucks coming out with finished product. There’s gonna be a lot of activity just from that one lot alone. So that, to me is pretty exciting. It brings other people to the community as well.”
Recently, Stamer has noticed more people moving to Barriere to retire or start families.
“A lot of it is just what they see and the location and the proximity to Kamloops,” he said.
With real potential for population growth in the near future, the mayor wants to bring more affordable housing to the community.
“We’re working on it,” he said. “We’ve been in consultation with Yellowhead Community Services (YCS).”
Stamer referenced the success of YCS’s 2019 affordable housing development in the neighbouring community of Clearwater and said that the District of Barriere is working diligently to come up with a similar proposal to send to BC Housing.
“We’ve just got the rest of the information on our housing study that went out this fall,” he added. “We’ll get a report in the middle of this month on what the numbers are and then that will be forwarded together with the rest of the paperwork.”
He noted that the district is considering various locations for the proposed affordable housing initiative, including a large lot that was previously rezoned for this specific purpose. Read more in our Jan. 16, 2020, issue.
Raven Nyman is a Freelance Multimedia Journalist