Cannabis R&D facility coming to Kelowna

The ground breaking ceremony for a new cannabis research and development centre took place Thursday afternoon in Kelowna.

The 50,000 square foot facility, set to open in summer of 2019 on McCarthy Road, is the result of a partnership between the Flowr Corporation and Hawthorne Canada Limited.

It will include labs, growing rooms, and genetics research areas, in hopes of coming up with the best quality cannabis strains possible.

"What everyone is trying to do is grow quality, clean product, and as much of it as possible on the smallest footprint," says Flowr CEO Vinay Tolia. "To optimize that requires lots of research and development, and that's what this (facility) is going to be. This is going to include things like testing nutrients and how it affects the THC composition of the plant when it's time to harvest, testing different lighting technologies, and testing different soil or plant mediums."

Tolia says Kelowna was the perfect place to build such a facility.

"The reason why we're here is because of the talent and knowledge of the product here in the Okanagan," says Tolia. "And our co-founder, Tom Flow, and his family moved here four years ago and fell in love with the place."

Karl Shrom, Hawthorne's head of research and development, calls the facility the "first of its kind."

"Right now, it's a real challenge for anyone to get scientific answers and run scientific studies to help growers out, and many of us as vendors aren't able to provide those answers," says Shrom. "This facility is going to allow us to capture those answers, and ultimately it's going to help all growers."

Once open, the facility, along with Flowr's neighbouring cultivation site, will employ up to 200 people.