By David Tuan Bui 
BELLEVILLE – Belleville city council’s planning advisory committee  voted unanimously Monday to rezone the former Sears distribution centre property.
The land at 500 College St. E. was rezoned to general industrial with special provisions to permit a medical marijuana production facility.
“The opinion of the committee is (that the site is) a perfect location” for the marijuana facility, Coun. Jackie Denyes, the chair of the planning committee, told QNet News after the vote. It is “away from parks (and) away from schools, and they’re in the industrial park,” Denyes said.
The property had to be rezoned to allow cannabis operations to take place.
The Sears distribution centre closed in January due to the company’s bankruptcy. The site has been sold to Belleville Complex Inc., a company that was created exclusively to own and operate the facility. Belleville Complex is in turn owned by two companies, Olegna Holdings Inc. and Hexo Operations Inc., according to a presentation to the planning committee by Devan Pennell, director of business planning at Hexo.
Hexo specializes in the production and distribution of cannabis and cannabis products and is based in Gatineau, Que. Pennell said the company plans to hire about 100 full-time employees in March 2019. The company also plans to hire construction workers as early as this month to do renovations to the building, he said.
Hexo plans to lease about 500,000 square feet of the 2 million at the property from Belleville Complex to process cannabis for distribution. The marijuana will be grown at other locations, but the Belleville site could eventually turn into a growing facility as well, Pennell said.
Marijuana becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.