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Portage plant will still go to pot, despite opposition

Opposition to a proposed medical marijuana plant in Portage la Prairie has failed to stop the project, which could now start construction in April.

A 17-name petition from residents in the vicinity of the former Winnipeg Pants and Sportswear building in Portage, where Medical Manitoba Green Inc. plans to house its facility, was presented to Portage council this week.

"We think it should be in the country or an industrial area," said William Thiele, who lives four houses from the site. "We figure if there's going to be a robbery and bullets start to fly, we're right there."

But council was assured by the project partners and an RCMP inspector it will be properly fortified. RCMP told council the building will need security on par with a bank before Health Canada gives it final approval.

A fence will be constructed around the building, and there will be motion detectors and cameras on the outside, said Hersh Binder, spokesman for Medical Manitoba Green Inc.

It will use card entry only and through at least two sets of steel doors. Once past the first entrance, a visual identification by security personal will be needed to enter the second door. The building will also include a vault for finished product to which only three or four people have access.

The company expects construction to start after an engineer's report is completed in the next couple of weeks. Construction could take about six months.

Portage deputy mayor Irvin Ferris said the facility would put to use a building erected in 1965 that has sat empty for at least a decade. "Right off the bat, you're looking at a $1-million investment to bring it up to standards," he said. The company also promises to employ 10 people immediately .and eventually as many as 30.

Portage council passed third and final reading this week for a conditional use permit, paving the way for the company to carry out its plans.

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