Published On: Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Major Industrial Development to Feature Largest Solar Farm in Canada
COLDSTREAM - Restoration Lands’ Okanagan Eco Park is more than just a development project.
“It’s an opportunity to restore jobs, homes and economic value to the area by unlocking this very important asset,” says Michael Molnar, the company’s co-owner and CEO.
Restoration Lands is on mission to develop 92 acres of industrial land in the Coldstream area, which includes a 450,000 square foot former glass plant.
After losing 350 high-paying jobs when Lavington Glass Plant shut down, the region was in need of a solution with substantial economic impact.
The former glass plant and surrounding property was purchased by Molnar and his wife, Sharon in September, 2016, launching Restoration Lands.
“Our main goal was to restore the building to be able to take in a tenant, but we also currently own 54 per cent of the serviced employable industrial land in our region,” says Molnar. “Our big-picture plan is to fill the building and also create what’s called Okanagan Eco Park, which is a sustainable, self-sufficient industrial park.”
The Eco Park will include 20-30 commercial lots, and will be stratified and controlled to ensure all tenants have mitigated their environmental impact.
These companies may include agricultural, value-added lumber and wood products, manufacturing, green industrial, bio-chemical, food processing, and service industries.
The property is only 12 minutes from downtown Vernon, and 45 minutes from Kelowna. It will feature a double railway spur (CNR), and easy highway access. It includes a current 7MVA substation (Restoration Lands is in the process of upgrading to a 60 + MVA transmission sub), and industrial backup power generator, and 8” natural gas line (25 PSI, upgradable to 300 PSI), and three water sources on-site.
With access to all of the infrastructure and transport logistics, all of these companies can benefit and cooperate with each other and the surrounding communities to share resources thereby increasing efficiency, profitability, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
The main 450,000 square foot building has been undergoing renovations for the last two years, and is nearly ready to house a tenant.
“One of the most unique features of this project will be the creation of a solar farm on the roof on the main factory,” says Molnar. “We’ve already restored the roof using Construct Shield building materials, and we’re preparing to create the largest solar installation in the province.”
All of the power generated by this 7.5 acre rooftop installation will be consumed on-site by property owners and tenants.
“When you look at the value of land, particularly industrial land, it doesn’t make sense to put a solar farm on the ground,” Molnar continues. “We decided to look at the flat roof on the old factory as free land, where we can generate enormous amounts of energy.
“It makes complete sense from a sustainability perspective, especially when considering the demand for accessible clean power. The sun provides great energy, and we have very high solar exposure in this region.
“We’ve been tracking al the weather patterns since we purchased the building, and the site is very conducive to a project like this.”
This project has the full support of the surrounding municipalities, including Coldstream, Vernon, and the Regional District, including economic development organizations.
“Over the past two years, we’ve been working toward unlocking the economic value of this building, undergoing significant renovations and upgrades,” says Molnar. “We’ve spent almost $3.5 Million, which has already contributed to the local economy.”
At this stage, appraisal value for the main structure has nearly quintupled, before construction of the Eco Park has begun. Molnar plans to build the rest of the property up over the next three to four years, with lots becoming available as early as next spring.
“The economic development from jobs created and tax-base, coupled with all the infrastructure and buildings that go up will be in the hundreds of millions,” he says.
“We wouldn’t be surprised if our work resulted in an economic impact as high as $500 Million over time. We have 92 acres of industrial land. It’s time to unlock the value and create a legacy for the region.”