A 99,000-square-foot expansion has been approved for the dairy processing operation at Vitalus Nutrition in west Abbotsford.
The property is located at the southwest corner of Mt. Lehman and Downes Road.
The project, estimated to cost $3 million, required a prior application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to exclude 2.6 hectares (6.5 acres) of land at 30212 Downes Rd. – previously used as a tree farm – from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The ALC application was approved in August 2021 to allow that portion of land for non-farm use, and council gave the final OK to the project at its meeting on July 25.
The 2.6-hectare portion approved for non-farm use will be consolidated with 3911 Mt. Lehman Rd. to form a 6.12-hectare lot.
The northern 2.6 hectares of Downes Road remaining in the ALR will be subdivided as a parcel.
The land at 3899 Mt. Lehman Rd. – on which a portion of the new facility will be constructed – remains under separate ownership until the parcel can be purchased by Vitalus and consolidated.
Vitalus Nutrition processes raw milk into various dairy and protein products for food, beverage and nutraceutical companies.
Before its formation, the Vanderpols family began operation as an egg-processing facility.
Two businesses evolved from the original operation: EggSolutions Vanderpols and Vitalus.
Applicant Pacific Land Resource Group Inc. sent a letter to council before final project approval, indicating that the dairy supply in B.C. and western Canada will be undergoing increases in the next few years.
“The proposed expansion of the Vitalus facility is intended to provide processing capacity for the increased supply and would, upon completion, expand the milk processing capacity at Vitalus from 130 million litres per annum to 565 million litres per annum over a period of ramp-up time,” the letter states.
The letter says the expansion would allow Vitalus to install state-of-the-art equipment “to not only produce cream and milk concentrate products but the ability to innovate and develop new products in B.C.”
The company currently employs 100 people – 74 per cent of whom live in Abbotsford – and anticipates hiring 87 more with the expansion, the letter states.
A letter of support from the BC Milk Marketing Board was also sent to the city, saying the lack of processing capacity in the province has had “significant impacts” to increase the milk supply.
“Upon completion, this project will be the single most significant investment in the Canadian dairy industry to date,” the letter states of the Vitalus expansion.