Alberta Firm Looking At Bunker Sites For Government Contract To Grow Medicinal Pot

TRURO - Marijuana is about all Loren Wiberg has on his mind these days, although he's
quick to point out he doesn't drink or do drugs.

The lone shareholder of the Alberta-based Zyx Corp. (pronounced zikes) is becoming
well-known in central Nova Scotia for his idea to turn underground nuclear fallout shelters,
like one in Debert, into medicinal marijuana growing, processing and research facilities.

Wiberg's preferred location is Penhold, Alta., located only minutes from his home. But that
shelter is scheduled for demolition unless he can convince government officials in his area to
keep it intact.

"Debert is our number one site until we can get the government to come through on
Penhold...we're confident we'll be able to change their mind," he said during a telephone
interview Monday.

Meanwhile, Ed Koenig, executive director of the Colchester Park Development Society which
operates the Debert `Diefenbunker' as it is called, said last week his group was approached by
the company for basic information about the shelter, but he hasn't seen any firm proposals or
business plans on which to comment.

Wiberg said the $5-million contract to grow marijuana for Health Canada over five years will
mean jobs for at least 10 to 12 people, including former RCMP officers, he intends to hire for
the handling of security.

The businessman isn't giving up hope for the Alberta site, but has also sent out feelers to
Debert and to the Carp bunker near Ottawa where he is optimistic owners-operators of those
facilities will support his project because of the positive economic impact.

Debert appeals to Wiberg because the bunker's operator was one of the first organizations he
contacted that seemed to grasp his concept, and see how ideal such facilities are for his

Koenig said his group isn't interested in renting the bunker for the sake of the money, but it is
interested in jobs and economic spinoffs.

Wiberg said the bunkers are ideal because of their sizes (in Debert 66,000 square feet); the
pre-existing security; and abundance of similar rooms for controlled growing research.

Security is a priority for the project. The federal government contract will be for 1,865
kilograms of marijuana over the five years, costing $2.89 per gram. The street value of the
drugs could be $10 per gram, making it an attractive product to criminals.

"We'll be able to account (in inventory) to a fraction of a gram," he said, referring to the
quality controls he is proposing.

As part of its research, the firm wants to take 450 species of marijuana and grow them using
hydroponics but under different conditions. The ultimate goal is to create the best plants to
assist medicinal users of marijuana. Such research could be sold world-wide.

Wiberg submitted his proposal to the federal government in June. He said he believes he is a
front runner among four or five other companies to win the contract, which is supposed to be
awarded in December.

"We have a well-rounded proposal...we're not just growers."

If he receives the contract, Wiberg will move his operation immediately to be near the
selected bunker, with start-up set for January.

A series of bunkers were built in remote areas across Canada in the 1960s and all, except for
the ones in Debert and Carp, have been turned over to private companies or been sealed.

The Debert bunker is in an industrial park and was offered for lease a few years ago,
complete with its cafeteria and hospital facilities. But the structure, which was built to
withstand earthquakes, tidal waves and nuclear fall-out, wasn't snapped up.

Urban legend in Alberta says the Penhold bunker fell back into government hands after it was
rumoured a private buyer of the property was considering reselling it to a notorious
motorcycle gang.

MAP posted-by: Thunder
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2000
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2000 Southam Inc.
Page: News 1 / Front
Bookmark: medicinal cannabis - Canada