For Olds, a town that lost some of its oil and gas lustre since the price of crude swooned four years ago, it’s the welcome smell of money.
It’s hard to say the Sundial Growers cannabis production facility has changed the visible face of the town of 9,200 an hour’s drive north of Calgary.
The grow operation’s grey, low-slung rows of modular structures don’t stand out from neighbouring agricultural plants that make up the town’s industrial southeast edge.
But there’s no doubting the economic buzz its operators say will only grow dramatically along with the leafy, aromatic harvests in the coming months. “By July, we’ll have 500 workers, it’ll make us the largest employer in Olds, for sure,” says Jim Bachmann, Sundial’s officer of construction and production.
“It’s not just oil and gas, it’s oil and grass.” The Sundial operation is one of several that’s altering the dynamic of Alberta’s rural economy and the small towns that host them.
Last year, the company operated with just 20 workers; by the end of 2019, said Bachmann, there’ll be 900.
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