The historic brewery will move into $300-million new home in Chilliwack next year.
Anyone who has ever cycled to Kits from downtown over the Burrard Street bridge will surely know the smell—the faint, malty whiff of fermenting beer that lingers in the air on a balmy summer’s evening. Soon though, that flavourful scent will be a thing of the past. The historic Molson Coors Brewery—one of the last remnants of the area’s industrial past—will close next summer, as operations move to a new $300-million facility on a 35.8-acre site in Chilliwack. The existing commercial site was sold to developer Concord Pacific in late 2015, and it’s not yet clear how this area will be developed when Molson Coors vacates in August next year. But what about the new facility? With an increasing number of craft breweries in the hop-growing heart of the Fraser Valley, what can we expect from Chilliwack’s commercial brewery? Perhaps more importantly, will the new development translate into an economic boon for the region? Right now, it’s a little too soon to tell. While certainly some jobs have already been advertised, Molson Coors Canada Director of Corporate Affairs Josh Stewart says final employment numbers will be dependent on market demand at the time of the opening. However, Stewart says more than 1000 local jobs have been created during the construction phase of the new brewery. The company also sourced nearly half of its beer tanks from Fraser Valley manufacturers, with larger tanks shipped from overseas. Stewart expects some workers at the existing Kitsilano facility to move to the new location by the end of the year, with operations in Chilliwack expected to ramp up next year before the full transfer is complete by August 2019. Already, there has been a flurry of activity at the new site. “Construction is moving along nicely,” says Stewart. “Our last big advancement was the transfer and installation of nearly 200 large tanks. Many of these tanks were shipped from overseas which required a mammoth amount of planning to barge them up the Fraser River and then down Highway 1 for the last stretch before landing on the brewery site for installation.” The next step is to complete the exterior of the structure and the establishment of brewing and distribution infrastructure and systems. And when the new site is fully functional, you can go check it out for yourself. The company expects to offer tours and events on site during a community day in August 2019.