How does Alberta hold its liquor? In this mammoth new warehouse in St. Albert

Posted : 09/24/2018

CBC News
September 19, 2018

A new $142-million liquor distribution centre in St. Albert is large enough to hold 70,000 pallets of alcohol products.

The just-completed mammoth facility was shown off on Wednesday — but without a drop to drink in sight, other than some cases of a special craft-distillery gin made to mark the occasion.

Wine, beer and other alcohol will be transferred to the new warehouse over the next few months, and distribution from the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission facility will begin early in 2019.

"If there's a zombie apocalypse, I know where I'm going to go and hide — right here," St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron joked at Wednesday's event.

The new distribution centre will be the primary facility in the AGLC's network of warehouses across the province.

It will handle all fast-moving product and serve as the central hub for orders and shipments.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci and AGLC CEO Allan Maisonneuve show off bottles of Chinook Honey Gin from Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley. The gin was made to celebrate AGLC's 25th anniversary. (CBC)

The new St. Albert facility is 543,000 sq.-ft. in total.

It has 473,000 sq.-ft. of dedicated warehouse space, equivalent to nearly eight NFL football fields. The AGLC says the warehouse has enough volume to contain 3.2-billion six-ounce glasses of wine.

The AGLC's existing warehouse in St. Albert opened in 1983, a decade before Alberta privatized its liquor industry, said AGLC CEO Allan Maisonneuve.

"We certainly needed this warehouse badly for a long time," Maisonneuve said.

"We had been managing our distribution network by leasing other space in other warehouses in north Edmonton and shuttling product back and forth to ensure that the liquor stores got the very best service all the time.

"This building will allow us to close down some of those other buildings and centralize all of the inbound product and all of the outbound product from this facility."

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said the new warehouse will play an important role in behind-the-scenes liquor-industry activities that consumers never see.

"The AGLC and partners work hard to ensure liquor products are easily registered, quickly received and cleared for sale, sold to licensees and then effectively shipped to stores, bars and restaurants," Ceci said.

"This building signifies an important investment in Alberta's reliable supply chain, so we can continue to provide the quality services and operational efficiencies necessary for our thriving liquor industry."

The new building was designed so that it can be expanded to 700,000 sq.-ft. if necessary, Maisonneuve said.

Seven million pounds of structural steel were used in its construction, and more than 2,800 concrete piles, some more than six metres deep.

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