Lavington glass plant purchase fuels regional optimism

Upwards of 200 people could be employed manufacturing building material from magnesium oxide.

Mike and Sharon Molnar announce plans Wednesday for the former glass plant in Coldstream.

Mike and Sharon Molnar announce plans Wednesday for the former glass plant in Coldstream.

The prospect of hundreds of manufacturing jobs is generating a lot of optimism.

Vernon’s Restoration Lands revealed details Wednesday to make construction material at the former Lavington glass plant on Hill Drive.

“This isn’t just a Coldstream, Lavington, Lumby or Vernon thing,” said Mike Molnar, owner of Restoration Lands.

“This will have a significant impact on the entire community.”

Restoration Lands could employ upwards of 200 people manufacturing building material from magnesium oxide.

“There will also be significant ancillary jobs for complimentary businesses on these premises,” said Molnar of manufactured homes and building panels.

On top of this, the 91-acre site could eventually feature 20 to 25 companies in what has been branded an eco park.

Molnar’s plans come as good news for the District of Coldstream, which was rocked when when the glass plant shut down eight years ago, laying off 300 people.

“We had to do a lot of adjustment to our tax base,” said Mayor Jim Garlick of the loss of such a major industrial taxpayer.

“This is exciting. The vision is correct for this site.”

Nearby Lumby is also looking forward to the development.

“The village is looking forward to supporting this endeavour by supplying houses and services to new employees and their families,” said Mayor Kevin Acton in a release.

Vernon’s real estate and retail shopping sectors are also expected to benefit from the new employees.

“We will do our best to support them (Molnar) in any way we can to fulfill the vision,” said Kevin Poole, Vernon’s economic development manager.

The goal is to have the facility constructing magnesium oxide material by next May, and it would be the first such plant outside of Asia.

Molnar says the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly but adds he is sensitive to any potential concerns.

“We will have town hall meetings and consult with the residents,” he said.

Recently, some Lavington residents protested a pellet plant and possible impact to air quality.

“This is a locally owned company and working with residents will make this a positive situation,” said Garlick of Molnar’s project.

The 450,000-square-foot former glass plant was constructed in 1969 and is largely in good condition although 7.5 acres of roof needs to be replaced.

“We’re having a work party on Saturday,” joked Molnar.