Construction of new Blackwell Dairy operation to begin in the new year

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 14, 2017 - 4:58pm Updated: December 14, 2017 - 6:08pm

KAMLOOPS — It's been six months since a fire broke out at the Blackwell Dairy Farm, destroying the company's entire milk processing plant.

Since then, the family has been working with the Department of Agriculture as well engineers and architects to rebuild the plant.

Construction and the purchasing of new equipment is expected to cost approximately three million dollars.

Luckily insurance will cover the costs.

"It's kind of lonely here because we used to have about 25 employees and they'd all be here and we'd be operating 24-hours-a-day" said Ted Blackwell, Owner of Blackwell Dairy Farms. "It's been really quiet."

Since the fire, the Kamloops resident has been working to rebuild the milk processing plant.

He says the new site will be just under nine-thousand square feet.

"The design is on the same floor plan with a slight extension for a store at the front of the plant. It won't look like a traditional plant but rather a farm building."

While the company has been shipping its milk out for processing since the fire, Blackwell's son in-law Ryan Hunter says not being able to serve the greater Kamloops region has been tough.

"A lady on our Facebook page made a statement that she's given up on coffee because she can't find a cream that works, and now of course the eggnog is a big one," said Hunter.

Happy Valley Foods sells the family's famous eggnog every Christmas season.

Staff say this year hasn't been the same without the product on its shelves.

"All the customers were so sad when the dairy burned down," said Clerk Viola Ward. "The chocolate milk and eggnog are the biggeset deals, that's what they miss the most, especially this time of year."

Blackwell says along with eggnog, the company will also make ice cream once again in the new facility.

As complex and time consuming as the rebuild process has been, the lifelong dairy farmer says the community support has made it worth it.

"Everyone has been so responsive and uplifting to our efforts. It helps to know you have that much customer support."

The project is scheduled to go to tender next week.

Work is set to break ground in the new year with the hope to be up-and-running in spring.

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