On the shores of the Lac-Saint-Jean at the mouth of the Métabetchouane River lies the sleepy town of Desbiens. With a little over 1000 residents, the town has experienced some economic downturn in recent years. However, their mayor, Nicolas Martel, has come up with a creative solution.
The municipality has acquired a former stationery factory that's been vacant for over 20 years with one purpose: to produce industrial quantities of cannabis.
According to La Presse, the town of Desbiens is seeking to attract government-sponsored producers as well as keep a 33% stake in the business and receive dividends to help maintain the town's infrastructure.
In a telephone interview with MTL Blog, Nicolas Martel expressed hope that this creative solution to his town's ills will get government approval and production can start as soon as possible. Ultimately, Martel hopes the factory can supply dried cannabis as well as edible products for when they're eventually legal.
The project, which is currently in Phase I, is part of Martel's vision for the revitalization of Desbiens. While there's a lot of bureaucracy that needs to happen, Martel is optimistic that his town will get approval.
In recent years, Desbiens has seen a resurgence in tourism thanks to Martel's efforts to attract festivals and cultural events to the town. They've recently hosted the Petanque World Championship, amateur sporting competitions, and various country fairs.
Desbiens is in a unique position to be a bustling small town thanks to its proximity to incredible nature reserves and an excellent river system that attracts many extreme sports enthusiasts to the region.
Martel says that a factory closure 20 years ago led to an ongoing population decline. He hopes that a cannabis production factory will replace the lost industry and revive the municipality.
Plans are already underway to renovate the factory according to the government's stringent standards. Production will happen indoors in a climate-controlled environment, one that Martel hopes to have ready by the end of this year. The town hopes to begin production by next spring.
In the future, Desbiens would like to be a producer of cannabis edibles as well. Martel says that his initiative will create an estimated 60-80 jobs in the town and anticipates that even more economic opportunity will follow once the factory is up and running.
For Martel, Desbiens has nowhere to go but up.
Desbiens certainly lives up to its name and we should all be rooting for this idyllic little town deep in the heart of Quebec!