Looking to invest? How about Sarnia-Lambton?
By Adam Veen Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
By Adam Veen Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership
March 9, 2016, Sarnia, Ont. — As the market for greenhouse vegetables continues to expand in Canada, finding the ideal location to build a new facility has become increasingly important for any greenhouse operator.
Sarnia-Lambton’s unique location provides a practical and cost effective solution for those looking to expand their greenhouse business, lower their operating expenses and increase their profit margin.
THE IDEAL CLIMATE
Located at the southern tip of Lake Huron, Sarnia-Lambton has some of the mildest weather in Canada. The cool air from Lake Huron decreases the amount of humid summer days and provides more moderate winter temperatures, allowing growers to reduce the energy costs that come with combating the humid Canadian summers and the extreme cold of the winter.
For this reason, Roeland Farms, a propagation greenhouse, chose to locate their business in Sarnia-Lambton.
Owner Adrian Roeland suggests, “cooler summers and warmer winters are a benefit to the greenhouse, as it has provided a possibility for higher production.”
He also notes that “in comparisons of data over time we noticed we have a lower temperature in the summer as the lake is deep and cold. We also noticed we get high light levels, and less clouds in the winter. This was in line with the data from environment Canada.”
Benefitting from these “lake effects,” which stabilizes Ontario’s inclement weather patterns and provides the ideal growing climate, allowed Roeland Farms to double their acreage within two years of startup.
PROXIMITY TO AMERICAN MARKET
Sarnia-Lambton provides a competitive advantage for any prospective greenhouse operation, not only because of the temperate climate, but also due to its relative location to the large scale export opportunities associated with the American Midwest.
Access to a vast network of highways – including Highway 402, Michigan’s I94/I69/I175 network and the Blue Water Bridge – allows for shorter travel and fuel expenses to transport produce to the intended markets.
Operating in Sarnia-Lambton for over ten years, Enniskillen Pepper Company finds the proximity to the markets, as well as the availability of energy, to be key elements to their long-term success.
ENERGY, INFRASTRUCTURE AND WORKFORCE
Energy costs represent 35-40 per cent of greenhouse operating expenditures. The distant natural gas storage facilities and lack of pipeline infrastructure to rural areas in competing regions also add to the expense.
Through Union Gas’ Dawn Hub facility, Sarnia-Lambton has the largest natural gas storage hub in Canada, allowing large volumes of natural gas to be pipelined to greenhouses and only a short distance to the potential facilities. The advantage of having this pipeline infrastructure in a rural environment allows for a reduced cost in pipeline installation for new greenhouse operations, making it easier for them to fuel their facility with the clean burning energy source.
Along with the availability of large quantities of natural gas, Sarnia-Lambton also has the availability of:
• Flat agricultural land and vacant sites zoned and serviced to cater to greenhouse operations.
• Close proximity to energy production and electrical infrastructure.
• Construction companies and suppliers allowing for the immediate construction of new greenhouse facilities.
• Abundant fresh water through the LAWSS (Lambton Area Water Supply System) that sources clean water from Lake Huron.
• Availability of full-time and seasonal workers, with the ability to work in rural locations.
Local industrial facilities in the petrochemical and bio-hybrid chemistry sectors, may present opportunities for unique partnerships with greenhouse operations. The abundance of carbon dioxide and steam production from these facilities could be used as an inexpensive heating source, helping to lower the operating costs of the greenhouse as well as help reduce the impact on the environment.
Taking advantage of such an opportunity is EnviroFresh Farms, who partnered with local fertilizer production facility, CF Industries, to have excess steam and carbon dioxide pipelined from the facility to the greenhouse. This allowed for a 30 per cent reduction in operating costs and made that facility one of the first carbon-negative greenhouses reducing emissions by at least 23, 000 tonnes per year.
Sarnia-Lambton’s abundance in land availability, labour capabilities and energy infrastructure, partnered with its unique location to markets provides any prospective greenhouse expansions with the necessary tools to ensure an easy – and cost effective – process to establish a new greenhouse facility. With unlimited potential, this area is ready to support the continued growth and success of the greenhouse market.
To find out more about Sarnia-Lambton and how the location can benefit your greenhouse operation visit www.sarnialambton.on.ca.
For more information, contact Matthew Slotwinski, agricultural/rural development coordinator, Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership: 519-332-1820; toll free 800-972-7642, ext. 236; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Veen is a specialist with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.