Thanks to a brand new warehouse most of the liquor consumed in Alberta will have to pass through St. Albert first.
The construction of the massive new Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) warehouse is 66 per cent complete and is on track to being finished and functional sometime in 2018.
Construction started in February 2016 for the building that is the size of eight NFL football fields. The facility will be approximately 540,000 square feet with a perimeter of over one kilometre. Currently the AGLC is projecting 18.5 million cases of product to pass through the St. Albert location annually.
The large facility is located between Anthony Henday Drive, Boudreau Road and Campbell Road.
Jody Korchinski, vice president liquor services at AGLC, said that most liquor will be moved through the new building.
“This will be our major outpost for all outgoing deliveries that are sent to every corner of the province. We will still utilize other warehouse facilities for slow-moving stock and helping to manage the slow moving product,” Korchinski said.
Right now, the province has five leased spaces to store alcohol along with the current St. Albert location that was built in 1983. Once the new warehouse is operating, the current St. Albert facility will be renovated and used to store other stock. All the offices that are currently in the AGLC building will be moved into the new facility and the number of employees will remain relatively similar.
Korchinski said that the warehouse is an important project for the government because liquor sales generate so much money.
“Liquor generates $850 million dollars for the government of Alberta and so it is a large operation and making sure we have an efficient warehouse to support that revenue is certainly one of the mandates of the AGLC,” Korchinski said.
Part of ensuring the warehouse runs efficiently is to secure the product stored within the building.
Kelsey Valle with ONAP Architects said that because of the precious cargo stored inside, the building will be staffed with security at all times.
Valle said that anyone arriving at the site will have to pass through a small security building. Truck drivers will have to check in and will be told to drive up to one of the loading dock doors. Every loading dock door will be fully secured and the truck drivers will never see what is going on inside of the building.
The land will be surrounded by bonded fences, similar to those seen at a jail and even the office area of the building is fully secure. All employees will have to pass through three security checkpoints before they can get to work.
“There is not a door in this facility that you can pass through without having security clearance,” Valle said.
Along with considering security features, ONAP Architects also had to give special consideration to the flooring.
Valle said that because of the high racking and product being stored inside the warehouse, the company had to ensure that the floor was completely flat and level.
“This is a very different floor slab from what you typically see in warehouses,” Valle said.
The warehouse’s volume is equivalent to 230 Olympic swimming pools and is 50 feet tall. It will have many rows of high racks that will hold more than 70,000 pallets of product. Valle said that designing a floor to support the the product was one of the biggest challenges with the warehouse design.
“There were significant costs in the flooring system. A lot of it has to do with the product that we are storing in here. We need to make sure that the product is well supported by the floor,” Valle said.
The warehouse sits on around a 15 inch thick concrete slab which is supported by 2800 piles, with some running as deep as six metres into the ground. Once the floor is poured from the roughly 1900 trucks full of concrete the top of the floor is hand finished by some of the 80-95 construction staff working on the project.
“We can’t have any types of bumps or divots in it,” Valle said.
Valle said that any bumps in the floor could rattle the cases of alcohol being transported by the forklifts and break the glass bottles. If the floor is uneven it could compromise the integrity of the racking structure that holds the bottles.
Valle said that along with the floor, the lighting level in the building is very important. Some of the product will be stored very high up and forklift drivers will have to read the labels to retrieve the pallets.
“The high racking allows you to get density higher up in the facility so that you are able to get more cases into this facility,” Korchinski said.
All of the product will be moved around the warehouse by forklifts. When the facility opens Valle predicts around 150 forklifts to be operating inside the warehouse but there is an indoor forklift parking area that can fit more than 200 vehicles. Rather than send out the forklifts for repairs, the warehouse has its own vehicle maintenance area where mechanics can fix all of the problems in house.
Right now the construction is two-thirds completed and Korchinski says that project is running under the $153 million budget.
Although a lot of work is already completed, the building still needs some site work before winter. Valle said that they want to complete outdoor paving, gardening and finish enclosing the building during the outdoor construction season. During the winter the work will move inside and they will finish the office space and work on installing the racks.
The building will be operational sometime during the 2018 calendar year and was built to house only alcohol product.
AGLC FACILITY BY THE NUMBERS
• 1140 trucks full of concrete for the piles
• 180 trucks full of concrete for grade beams
• 1900 trucks full of concrete for warehouse floor slab
• 262 semi trucks full of racking for the warehouse
• Over 2800 piles, with some over six metres deep
• Seven million pounds of structural steel was used in the construction of the building
• Warehouse volume is equivalent to 3.2 billion 6 oz. glasses of wine
• 50-foot high warehouse can hold over 70,000 pallets of product
• 15-inch thick concrete structural slab for the warehouse floor