There were more than a few glasses raised at the news Molson is looking at Chilliwack for its new brewery location.
Speculation had been bubbling for months – ever since the company sold its property in downtown Vancouver.
However, the appearance of signs noting a potential rezoning added some real froth to those rumours.
This week a spokesman for the company confirmed Chilliwack was its “preferred proposed location for the new Molson Coors brewery in British Columbia” (Progress, June 22).
That’s welcome news for a city attempting to bring jobs and economic development to the community. If Chilliwack wants to ward off the curse of becoming a bedroom suburb to municipalities to the west, it must have its own vibrant industrial base.
Food production has long been eyed as one avenue that would fit naturally with Chilliwack’s long history of agriculture.
Indeed, that was the premise behind the creation of the Kerr Avenue Business Park – the area where the rezoning signs recently appeared.
The entire area was serviced in anticipation of that development. However, so far only two businesses have located there, with a third preparing to open. (See story, page 20.)
Molson would be an ideal fit for that spot.
From the company’s standpoint, visibility would be unprecedented, access to the highway ideal, and the land more affordable than anything it could find closer to Vancouver.
It could also tap into Chilliwack’s historic connection to the hop growing industry – an industry that is currently enjoying a resurgence and one Molson has already drawn on through the purchase of hops from the Sartori Cedar Ranch hop farm in the Columbia Valley.
Add to that Chilliwack’s reputation for its water, and company officials should be toasting their good fortune.
For Chilliwack, the benefits are equally obvious: skilled jobs, an expanded tax base, and a litany of economic spin offs.
No doubt there’s still a lot of negotiating to be done.
But there is reason to hope Chilliwack is on the verge of an important industrial development.