2017-08-30

Aqualitas to pay nearly $600,000 in rent at Port Mersey

by Michael Lee

  • <p>MICHAEL LEE PHOTO</p><p>Myrna Gillis, chief executive officer of the Bedford-based medical marijuana company Aqualitas, speaks to the Region of Queens Municipality on June 13.</p>

The medical marijuana company Aqualitas will pay Harbourside Commercial Park Inc. $595,000 over 10 years to lease a three-acre parcel of land at the former Bowater site in Brooklyn.

A copy of the lease and purchase agreement between Aqualitas and Harbourside was released through a Freedom of Information request made public on August 14.

The details from the agreement show the Region of Queens Municipality will receive $17,097.60 per year in the form of a grant in lieu of property taxes, paid in monthly installments to Harbourside.

"We have no involvement in that," said Mayor David Dagley of the Region of Queens Municipality.

He said Property Valuation Services Corporation, a not-for-profit organization responsible for all property assessments in Nova Scotia, sets the value for the land.

Dagley said the region does not have a separate agreement with Aqualitas, but added that there will be jobs and a resulting spin-off.

"Money that's earned by the employees working for that company will be spent locally."

Barbara Darby, vice president and corporate counsel for Aqualitas, said in an email that the "company is bound by a confidentiality clause in the lease."

Darby referred all inquires to Harbourside.

Although Aqualitas will operate out of Port Mersey Commercial Park, its lease and purchase agreement was made with Harbourside Commercial Park which is based in Sydney.

The Crown corporation Nova Scotia Lands manages both sites and all three have the same registered office in Halifax.

Wilf Kaiser, spokesperson for Nova Scotia Lands, said Harbourside Commercial Park owns the land at Port Mersey and pays one lump sum in property tax to the Region of Queens.

Harbourside then recoups that money through various agreements with each of the tenants using its own formula.

Aqualitas announced in June that it plans to open a medical marijuana facility in Brooklyn using a process called aquaponics, a technique where fish and plants are grown together in a symbiotic way - the fish produce ammonia which is broken down into nitrates and used by the plants as nutrients.

The Bedford-based company was formed in 2014 and is currently in the process of obtaining a Health Canada licence to produce cannabis.

The company's chief executive officer Myrna Gillis said she expects to bring upwards of 60 jobs to the area, most of them local.

The lease, which began on May 15, 2017, will end on April 30, 2027.

The rent payments to Harbourside start at $7,000 each month for the first 36 months and then drop to $4,083 each month for the remaining 84 months.

Aqualitas also has the option to purchase the property for one dollar as long as notice is given no later than 90 days before the lease expires.

Clarification: This story has been clarified to specify that the Region of Queens receives payments through Harbourside.

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