BC Tree Fruit Co-op has sold its Lake Country packing house as part of its long-term plan to consolidate operations.
The sale, to an undisclosed buyer, closed on August 31, 2023 for $15.8 million.
“This was a planned sale as part of the cooperative’s consolidation plan that began in August of 2022,” says Laurel Van Dam, vice-president, grower relations and corporate affairs. “The cooperative still owns and operates the storage and receiving facility in Lake Country on the other side of Bottom Wood Lake Rd.”
Plans to sell facilities in Lake Country and Kelowna were part of the plan to consolidate packing operations in Oliver. BC Tree’s expansion of its Oliver plant got underway earlier this year.
The consolidation plans also triggered a backlash against the co-op, which grower members felt had not consulted them adequately after maintaining that the long-term plan was to consolidate operations at a new state-of-the-art facility on Old Vernon Road in Kelowna.
The backlash triggered a challenge to the co-op’s leadership in a special general meeting last November.
More recently, Warren Sarafinchan, who led the co-op through the process that led to Oliver being chosen for the new consolidated facility, stepped down as CEO after four years in the role. Currently on a leave of absence, Sarafinchan will return to the co-op with what a press release called “a new focus.”
Co-op chief financial officer Doug Pankiw is serving as acting CEO while the co-op undertakes a search for a permanent replacement.