Frederic Landtmeters with Molson Coors Canada speaks during the ground breaking ceremony for the company’s new brewery on Kerr Avenue Tuesday morning. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Chilliwack welcomes new Molson Coors brewery at official groundbreaking

Milestone marked by brewery, city and provincial reps with a special groundbreaking shovel from UFV

Let the build begin!

With those words of encouragement, the Molson Coors team and partners broke ground Tuesday morning at the sprawling future site of the new brewery and distribution centre.

The groundbreaking for the Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack featured a special oversized shovel crafted by UFV welding students.

Turning the ceremonial sod were Frederic Landtmeters, president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada, Amy Michtich, chief supply chain officer for Molson Coors, Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz and B.C. deputy premier Rich Coleman.

“Today is a big day for Molson Canada,” Landtmeters told the crowd, while streaming live on social media, “and being on-site here in the Fraser Valley, adjacent to the iconic Trans Canada Highway, and at the foot of the beautiful Cascade Mountains, is truly an awesome experience.

“I know this is going to be a great home for our brewery— and for our people working here.”

The $200+ million investment in the modern, sustainable brewery will create more than 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, and 100 jobs once the brewery is fully commissioned, the CEO said.

After months of searching, and consideration of 30 other locations, they chose the 36-acre Chilliwack site on Kerr Avenue to construct the western Canadian brewing and distribution centre for Molson-Coors beer, cider and more.

Landtmeters thanked both the Province of B.C. and City of Chilliwack reps for making it happen.

“Your leadership leadership and vision were instrumental in Molson choosing Chilliwack for our brewery,” he said to Mayor Gaetz, adding that city and CEPCO reps demonstrated “that you are a terrific community to do business with,” concluding with acknowledgement of Chief David Jimmie and Sto:lo Nation support.

Construction will take about 18 months, and the first signs of foundation and building construction should be visible by July 2017. General contractors are Smith Brothers and Wilson of Vancouver with architects Omicron designing of the brewery and retail operation at the site.

At the Chilliwack facility workers will be brewing Molson Canadian, Coors Light, Rickards, Granville Island brews and cider.

Deputy premier Rich Coleman noted that Chilliwack had beaten everyone else to the punch on cementing the brewery location, adding the community should be proud of its achievement.

“You could have gone anywhere,” said Coleman, referring to Molson’s decision to move out of downtown Vancouver. “To make a choice to choose B.C. to continue to stay on and make beer is really something special, especially for the City of Chilliwack.”

The investment of $200 million in the project is “huge!” he told Molson reps, and “on behalf of Premier Christy Clark, thank you for having the confidence in the province of B.C and the City of Chilliwack.”

Mayor Sharon Gaetz lauded the company for choosing Chilliwack, and everyone who worked tirelessly to make it happen.

“Canada is known for many things,” she said, “its vast geography, colourful currency, manners and diplomacy. But two things rise to the top: hockey and beer, and the lord knows that Canada is known for its beer!”

As the largest single private sector investment ever to come to Chilliwack, “we are so grateful,” Gaetz said. “It’s great for our economy, with those 1,000 jobs that have been referenced several times in the construction alone, and you will be fabulous for our community.

“We wish you prosperity and growth in our city, and we warmly welcome you to Chilliwack.”

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