Leamington greenhouse future unclear as Lakeside Produce files for bankruptcy
Lakeside Produce Inc., which operates a largescale commercial greenhouse in Leamington employing hundreds of people, has filed for bankruptcy.
Documents made public through Ernst and Young, serving as insolvency trustee, show the company owing a total $187,889,241.97 in liabilities to 300 different creditors — with only $3,580,233 in assets.
Among the company’s debts, more than $100,000 owed to Cervini Farms, the parent company of the property where the Leamington greenhouse is based — and numerous uninsured claims levied by creditors located locally, across North America and even overseas.
CTV News reached out to Lakeside Produce but did not hear back Friday and Ernst and Young was not able to comment on what this might mean for the company’s future and that of its employees.
Richard Lee, executive director of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), wasn’t able to speak to the specific situation either but says inflation has hit producers as much as the average person.
“I do predict that the sector will continue to face challenges tied specifically to the inflationary pressures that are being felt globally,” says Lee.
“We were focusing on a post-pandemic recovery and the unique thing about this financial climate is that all prices increased across the board at the same time.”
Lee says he hopes farmers and producers will throw their support behind a private members bill brought to Parliament Hill last summer.
Bill C-280, sponsored by York—Simcoe MP Scot Davidson, would establish a deemed trust mechanism for fresh produce growers and sellers in Canada, ensuring payment in the case of a buyer bankruptcy.
Lee says current Canadian laws don’t provide protection to such businesses in the case of insolvency or bankruptcy.
“So most of those producers and sellers are left holding the bag,” he says.
That Bill had its first reading last June but hasn’t yet reached it’s second.
The first meeting of Lakeside Produce’s creditors will take place Thursday, Feb. 2 via conference call.
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