The Fraser Valley is receiving a major economic push thanks to a $200-million investment from Molson Coors Canada to construct a new state-of-the-art brewery.
Chilliwack was chosen as the location for the company’s new facility to replace its now-sold, historic brewery at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver. The project broke ground earlier this week, just days after a development permit was granted by City Council, on a 36-acre site along the Trans-Canada Highway at Vedder Road near the US-Canada border.
The site of the new 403,000-square-foot brewery is nearly five times larger than the existing 7.6-acre brewery at the edge of False Creek. It will produce and distribute much of the company’s beer and cider supplies for the market in Western Canada.
It consists of a processing plant, process and packaging areas, warehouse space, general services, offices, staff amenity areas, and a 7,500-square-foot roadside retail sales building.
A major decorative feature on the grounds of the facility, near the employee parking area, will be a tall flag pole for a large Canadian flag visible to those passing along the highway.
And with such a large site footprint, the facilities are designed to allow for a future expansion of to up to 657,000 square feet in additional building space.
“We are delighted that Molson Coors Canada is breaking ground in Chillwack. The construction of their brewery will immediately infuse our community with new construction jobs and we look forward to the bustle of activity that will surround the creation of the brewery,” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz in a statement.
It is anticipated that the new facility will create over 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and employ approximately 100 people once the brewery is fully operational.
The facility’s first production and distribution is scheduled to begin in early-2019. Until then, Molson will continue to use the Vancouver facility for its supply chain needs.
Molson sold the 1953-built facility last year to Concord Pacific for $185 million, and the local real estate developer intends to redevelop the site into mixed-use development with residential and high-tech uses.
But such a redevelopment for these uses could be years away given the challenge with site’s current industrial zoning. Both the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver Regional District have designated the brewery site for traditional industrial uses; an amendment to municipal and regional policies would be required in order for the developer to proceed with its residential and high-tech vision.