By Dean Midyette
Special to the Pioneer
At an open house held on Thursday August 15th, it was clear that the proponents of the new water bottling plant in Canal Flats are focused on realizing an aggressive timeline and are driven to success. CEO Richard Belanger and Director of Sales and Marketing Sara Ward met with residents, presented their plans to the community and answered questions about their new business venture.
The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc. plans to construct a 7,000 square foot, $3 million water bottling facility that will be situated on the south side of Highway 95 in the northwest corner of The Flats RV Campground and will have the capacity to fill 6,000 500 ml bottles per hour*.
Mr. Belanger is a professional engineer whose resume includes international work with Bombardier and General Electric while Ms. Ward comes from a real estate background as well as having owned and operated an 18 hole executive golf course outside of Edmonton. The bottling plant will create 14 full time jobs initially, increasing to 22 full time positions when the facility reaches full capacity. New wells will be drilled near the facility to supply the plant and the village’s existing water supply will not be accessed.
Production is scheduled to begin in January 2020 and securing a water license is the primary focus for the project.
During the presentation, Mr. Belanger and Ms. Ward were very clear that they were committed to developing a business that is respectful to their employees, promising well paying full time employment, respect for environmental considerations and committing to supporting the community through infrastructure investments and programs like the food bank.
Mayor Karl Sterzer commented, “We were pleased to hear of the proposal by Mr. Belanger and his partner Sarah Ward regarding the water bottling facility proposed for Canal Flats. As we receive applications from their group we will proceed accordingly. In addition to The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc,. the Village is currently engaged with several suitors for new businesses in Canal Flats and remain committed to engaging with the investors as they work through the approvals process.”
“We are not trying to be a large conglomerate”, noted Mr Belanger, adding that the type of aquifer upon which Canal Flats sits does not lend itself to large commercial extraction. What it does offer, he emphasized, is some of the purest water in North America.
To find out more about the project, visit their Facebook page at The Source of the Columbia Beverages.
* Edit: This story has been edited from the original version to reflect correct numbers. The initial story reported the plant would produce 6,000 bottles per day. The Pioneer apologizes for this error.