• Jim Mosher

Cannabis plant talks under tight wraps after Gimli agrees to non-disclosure

According to a public filing under the Canada Corporations Act, this is the mailing address of Alta Greens Ally, a Calgary-based corporation.

— Photo Courtesy Darcy Bedard

A cannabis processing plant pitched for a site in Gimli has been the subject of ongoing negotiation with a representative of Alberta-registered Alta Greens Ally, Ltd. The Calgary company was registered under the Canada Corporations Act April 24, 2018.

There is only named director of the company: Rezaei Afsah though he is also identified Mohammad Reza.

In spite of the firm having no record as a cannabis producer, Gimli council passed a resolution Jan. 9 to sell a municipally-owned parcel of land in the industrial park to the proponent for $500 an acre. It’s believed an Alta Greens Ally spokesman is believed to have, at some point prior, told council that the plant and growing spaces will employ 300 people in Gimli.

A facility large enough to accommodate such a large-scale operation would likely require a large land base, which is not available in Gimli Industrial Park proper. The municipality owns a 160-acre property west of the Gimli Motorsports Park. It leases the existing land for $30,000 a year, which a local farmer cuts for forage.

Alta Greens Ally, Ltd. was not named in the Jan. 9 resolution but it was named two weeks later as having been one of the business matters discussed during an in-camera session prior to its regular meeting Jan. 23.

Alta Greens Ally’s corporate information provides its corporate address as 1633-246 Stewart Green SW, a UPS mail drop at 246 Stewart Green SW.

Confronted with these facts during council’s most recent meeting, deputy mayor Richard Petrowski acknowledged that the municipality “signed some non-disclosure documents” with the Calgary firm. Councillors Thora Palson and Peter Holfeuer said that both the resolution of early-January and the discussion Jan. 23 involved Alta Greens Ally.

Coun. Holfeuer stressed that discussions remain in the preliminary stages; suggesting that such negotiations are typically behind closed doors in the early-going.

“Until the discussions play out and, if at all, we come to agreement, it’s something that the public will [be made aware of.] It’s not that we don’t want to provide clarity. It’s just the nature of negotiation and the confidentiality that we provided them,” Holfeuer said.

He added that the municipality should be open to all growth opportunities. “We’re always trying to look for economic development,” he said. “This [Alta Greens project] could be a win-win for us and that’s something we’re looking at very closely.”

The sequence of events behind-the-scenes and the resolution to cede municipal land is troubling, Coun. Palson suggested. “I think it’s very important that council is accountable to the process,” she said. “There has to be a certain level of transparency when negotiating public assets.”

“I’m also concerned about this non-disclosure agreement,” Palson continued. “You see resolutions indicating the company [involved]. That information is all publicly accessible.”

Was the unnamed entity referenced in the Jan. 9 resolution regarding the land deal the same entity named Jan. 23?

“I think we shouldn’t answer that, just to protect ourselves,” the deputy mayor replied.

Holfeuer and Palson disagreed, each indicating that Alta Greens Ally was the subject of both the land deal and the subsequent discussion. “I’m not afraid. Yes,” Palson said emphatically in answer to our question. Holfeuer followed suit.

Editor’s Note: It is not unusual for elected bodies to conduct confidential preliminary meetings with potential investors or land purchasers. However, signing a non-disclosure agreement ( NDA) with an untested company without a prospectus nor indication of capitalization may set a new precedent for future suitors.

Still, it should also be noted that the land sale resolution is conditional on the completion of a development agreement between the investor and the municipality.

The unanimously-supported sale resolution of Jan. 9 states: “RESOLVED THAT Council do hereby agree to sell a parcel of land in the industrial park at a price of $500.00 per acre, subject to a development agreement and further negotiations.”

The 'subject to' proviso was prudent, certainly. But why the NDA?

We asked a series of questions about the Alta Greens Ally deal/negotiation. Today, assistant chief administrative officer Kelly Cosgrove, who signed the NDA, indicated she is legally bound not to answer our questions.

Our questions, in addition to others unrelated to this matter, were:

Re: Alta Greens Ally

4.) I am told the firm was represented by [a named person]. Is that correct?

5.) When did discussions begin with Alta Greens Ally and-or its representative?

6.) When was the NDA signed and by whom?

7.) Who presented-prepared the NDA?

8.) Was the NDA vetted by the municipality’s lawyer?

9.) What property is involved in the $500/acre resolution of Jan. 9? What is the acreage size of the property? Where is it?

10.) Has Alta Greens or its spokesperson outlined the potential benefits of their project? e.g. are there numbers with respective to employment involved.

11.) What does the project entail, e.g. a greenhouse or standalone building for growing cannabis, and another for processing?

12.) Has the municipality received financials, a prospectus and a list of the shareholders?

13.) Is the NDA and the land sale/lease binding on the municipality?

14.) Is there a penalty to the municipality if the NDA is breached?

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