Legion packed for meeting on job impacts

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About 1,000 jobs expected over the next few years

A full house of about 120 people came to the Olds Legion Friday for a breakfast meeting to brief businesses and residents on the impact that new manufacturing firms and other businesses will have in the community in the next few years.

The event was organized by the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce and Uptowne Olds committee.

There are predictions that three firms set up or intending to set up here to produce medicinal marijuana (along with recreational marijuana in at least one case) will generate about 1,000 jobs over the next couple of years.

That is expected to fuel spinoff businesses and spur a need for more housing, medical care and other services.

Geoff Thompson, president of Sundial Growers, one of the cannabis-related firms setting up shop here, said their company alone expects to hire about 500 employees by 2019.

Plans call for about 250 to 300 of those jobs to be filled this year and production to begin by about the end of this year. He said job fairs to make people aware of those opportunities will be rolled out within the next three or four months.

During an interview with reporters, Mayor Mike Muzychka urged entrepreneurs to fill any gaps they see in services to the community.

Members of the audience asked several questions including how the town will handle the housing needs of those employees.

Muzychka told reporters the town plans to meet with developers to urge them to build housing for all income levels.

Another question dealt with how the town, with only three level railway crossings in the community currently, plans to handle the possibility of a train derailment or other related disaster.

Director of operations Scott Chant said the town is looking at adding another crossing which would be an overpass-style crossing. Also, he pointed out that two other crossings exist nearby, north and south of the town.

Chant, also a captain with the fire department, and Muzycka said the town is constantly looking at updating its emergency plans.

More coverage to come in a later edition of the Albertan.

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.