THINK BIG, THINK HEMP
By HUBERT BEYER
VICTORIA – While British Columbia’s forest industry is mired in the worst
slump in years, Brian Johnson of Victoria offers an alternative to make up
for the dwindling forestry revenues.
Johnson sees hemp as a viable product that can relieve British Columbia at
least in part of its traditional reliance on trees.
To that end, proposes to build an industrial park and eco village in Duncan
on Vancouver Island.
“This eco-village is to contain a modern industrial core, based on the
processing of industrial hemp materials and other similar eco-commercial
activities,” he says.
“A modern residential housing subdivision will be developed to support
workers and others who may wish to reside in such surroundings.”
The proposed eco-village would be Canada’s first truly sustainable
industrial, commercial and residential development.
Typically industrial processes tend to be one-way: extracting raw materials
and energy, shipping them vast distances to exploit cheap labour,
manufacturing mass-produced goods or services, and releasing, either treated
or untreated, various wastes and by-products into the environment.
Johnson sees this process not only as wasteful and inefficient, he says it
undermines the very life-support system upon which the economy it creates
The proposed eco-village concept is modeled after nature’s cycle of material
and energy use and continuing reuse, where the by-products of one process
become the raw materials of another.
“The concept for the eco-village acknowledges that it is contained within
the natural world and that it must function as an entity integrated with its
surrounding ecosystems. As well it will advance the principles of
“industrial ecology” to also incorporate the concepts of social
sustainability, where lasting employment is based on profitable, local,
renewable industry,” Johnson says.
The core process that would make all this possible is the processing of
industrial hemp seed into oil and cake. In this process, hemp seeds are
mechanically pressed to extract a oil and a fibre-rich cake.
The amount of oil yielded, Johnson says, amounts to 60 per cent of the raw
material and would fetch up to $8 a kilogram. and virtually no process
waste. The cake is useful as a healthful supplement to flour.
In addition, industrial hemp could be used in industrial and consumer
products ranging from building materials, such as wall-board, carpeting,
oriented strand board, to cosmetics as well as pulp, paper, textiles, rope
Johnson believes the hemp seed press and processing would give rise to a
number of secondary industries clustered around the main processes. These
could include a flour mill or bakery, brewery for hemp beer, and various
oil-utilizing industries ranging from art supplies, to soaps, to organic
Adding to this mix will be a variety of tourism-oriented commercial outlets
providing natural fibre clothing, restaurant and cafe, wine shop, art
gallery, museum, and other outlets of like nature.
The whole village, he says, will have an architectural theme such as 1920’s
or 1940’s style creating a tourism attraction over and above its
“Together these themes could be replicated and marketed across Western
Canada, the Pacific Northwest and abroad. In the longer term such a village
could be developed as an ideal location for the very profitable high tech
industries where quality of life is paramount to keeping staff,” he says.
“Residences providing accommodation to the workers, retail personnel,
retirees, and tourists attracted to see first-hand an example of
sustainability, will be attracted to the community.”
Johnson says other provinces have already taken advantage of the growing of
industrial hemp with Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan being the leaders.
Every other province except Newfoundland is presently growing and harvesting
more hemp than British Columbia.
“There are many companies using hemp in their products including Domtar Pulp
and Paper, Calvin Klein, Bowen Island Brewery, Shaftsbury Brewery, Body
Shop, Levi’s, Spinnakers (a pub), and the list continues to grow as
industrial hemp once again demonstrates its usefulness.”
One of the partners in the project is Transglobal Hemp Products Corp.,
incorporated in February, 1994 with a mandate to commercialize industrial
hemp on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
Another is Earth Tech Canada Inc., a full service engineering company,
located in Victoria, that will provide the engineering, architectural and
land use planning services for the Eco-village master plan, architectural
and engineering design standards, infrastructure development, waste
management as well as the concept of operation for industrial ecology in the
The financing, Johnson says, is already partly in place. And if his
enthusiasm is any indication, he will bring it off.
Phone: (250) 381-6900
Fax: (978)477-5656 (e-fax)