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Newshawk: Universal Compassion Centre
Pubdate: Fri, 18 Aug 2000
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2000 Calgary Herald
Contact: letters@theherald.southam.ca
Address: P.O. Box 2400, Stn. M, Calgary,Alberta T2P 0W8
Fax: (403) 235-7379

Author: Kelly Harris


First it was the Diefenbunker and now, if Innisfail entrepreneur Loren Wiberg gets his way, it
could be the Reeferbunker.

Wiberg, 49, started ZYX Corporation to secure a federal grant to grow medicinal marijuana,
and he figures the Cold War relic near the now- defunct Canadian Forces Base Penhold, 15
kilometres south of Red Deer, is the best place to do it.

"I was looking at the bunker and I thought it could be perfect," said Wiberg.

He heard a news story about the federal government's plan to issue a $5- million contract to
grow medicinal marijuana for clinical trials in May. He applied for the grant not because he's
a pot activist, but as a business venture.

The only problem is Red Deer County has called for tenders to demolish the bunker, built in
1964, a legacy of prime minister John Diefenbaker's defence policies.

The purpose of the two-level, 70,000 square foot-bunker was to shelter government leaders in
the case of a nuclear attack. It was one of 10 built across Canada, constructed to withstand a
nearby nuclear blast and house up to 350 people for 30 days.

The county is offering $500,000 to destroy the bunker, which has 38- centimetre-thick
concrete walls and 15-centimetre-thick steel doors.

County officials fear the bunker falling into the hands of survivalists or an outlaw motorcycle

The Hells Angels tried to buy the fortress for $1.3 million US when it was owned by a pair of
Red Deer businessmen. It has since been sold back to the government for $1.25 million.

Wiberg is appealing to the county to hold off demolition, at least until late fall when he expects
Health Canada to make a decision on who will get the marijuana research contract.

If he gets the contract, he'd pay the half-million dollars to buy the structure, or lease it from
the government so it never falls into private hands.

The appeal of the bunker is its security features.

Wiberg doesn't want to just grow the 1,865 kilograms of pot for the study just anywhere,
saying he'd be worried about the safety of the workers.

But, if he gets the Diefenbunker, he'll hire the former base commander of CFB Penhold to
run security. Once it's set up there's no way you'd have to worry about criminals," Wiberg

No one from the county could be reached for comment about the bunker Thursday.

- -with a report from Canandian Press

MAP posted-by: John Chase
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