Massive cuke greenhouse opens in Quebec
By Dave Harrison
Dec. 15, 2016, Saint-Felicien, Que. – Toundra Greenhouse management, accompanied by the premier of Quebec and several officials and partners, officially opened the greenhouse complex destined to become the largest in Quebec.
Toundra Greenhouse is a cucumber-growing complex. The four-phase project, upon completion, will involve an investment of $100 million and will create over 500 jobs.
In phase 1, annual production will reach over 45 million Lebanese and English cucumbers.
“For us, creating Toundra Greenhouse is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said CEO Éric Dubé. “It will create jobs, diversify our local economy, and bring innovation in the form of technology and energy efficiency.”
The achievement of this ambitious project required the participation of local investors who understand the major challenges facing rural communities.
Among them is Richard Garneau, president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products. He was inspired by the innovative efforts being developed in the region to ensure its economic diversification and joined the group in spring 2013.
“What’s unique about this greenhouse complex is that it covers 25 per cent of its heating needs by using heat waste from Resolute’s Saint-Félicien pulp mill,” he said.
UTILIZING WASTE HEAT FROM NEIGHBOURING PULP MILL
“At full capacity, reusing heat waste from Resolute’s cogeneration facilities as an alternative heat source will allow Toundra Greenhouse to lower its heating costs while enabling the mill to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions at a rate equivalent to removing more than 2,000 vehicles from the road per year.”
Known in the business community as entrepreneurs who value regional development, Bertrand Fradet and his daughters Caroline and Isabelle seized the opportunity to invest in this project to ensure its success.
“Our company’s ultimate goal is to make Quebec a self-sufficient producer of the vegetables it consumes, thereby reducing imports from outside the province,” said Caroline Fradet, senior vice-president of Toundra Greenhouse. “It’s an innovative project because of the technology it uses, and especially because of its crucial synergy with our neighbour, the Resolute pulp mill.”
The Quebec government, and in particular Premier Philippe Couillard, also played a key role in Toundra Greenhouse’s creation, making every effort to see it come to life.
Couillard believes it is absolutely essential for Quebec’s regions, and especially for Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean, to support residents who believe in the potential of their regions.
Toundra Greenhouse was also fortunate enough to have another key partner: Denis Lebel, MP for Lac-Saint-Jean. An important figure in the federal government, Lebel eagerly agreed to contribute his experience and energy to the project.
It is important to mention that over 50 Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean businesses played a role in developing this project and making it a success.
DISTRIBUTION THROUGH SOBEYS STORES
The project also received considerable support from Sobeys Québec, which will distribute the majority of Toundra’s production.
Now that production has begun, Toundra Greenhouse will be able to compete with Mexico, California, Spain and Ontario, who, until now, supplied 95 per cent of the cucumbers consumed in Quebec.
“We have built the most technologically advanced greenhouse complex in Canada,” said Dubé with pride. “After over two years of hard work, we can finally say – mission accomplished!”
Toundra Greenhouse uses Dutch technology, the world’s best greenhouse production technology in terms of productivity and reduced environmental impact. For more information, visit www.serrestoundra.com. To view the company’s video, click here,