PORT ALBERNI – First a shout-out to the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance and the South Island Prosperity Partnership for their respective virtual events over the past month. Although I missed the opportunity to connect with colleagues and meet new people face to face, some of the sessions were so compelling I actually stopped working off to the side to give the speakers my full attention!
One year ago, in this column I wrote about the beginnings of our Full-Scale Food Innovation and Processing Hub (now named The Dock +). This has been the outcome of an earned $750,000 grant to the City from the BC Ministry of Agriculture’s Food Hub program, a contribution of $500,000 from the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) and an investment of $300,000 from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.
The funding has gone into renovating and certifying a 17,500 square foot former and dormant fish plant to Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards and developing and equipping a commercial kitchen to Province of BC standards. The CFIA certified portion will focus on shellfish, finfish and seaweed. Two of the five anchor tenants (Flurer Smokery and Effingham Oysters) have achieved their certification while another anchor tenant, Cascadia Seaweed, is expecting to process their first big harvest in the Hub in April 2021.
We are delighted to announce the commercial kitchen will be available for processing of land-based farm products starting December 1st. One of the intents of the Food Hub is to make equipment available to growers and farmers that is otherwise too expensive to access on an individual basis. As such, this facility is attracting interest from a variety of individuals and non-profits from all over the Island who are contemplating the production of juices, soups, pies, chips and more.
The Port Authority (the owner of the Hub) is engaging with different interests to develop a small retail shop within the facility to promote sales of, primarily, foods produced by the anchor tenants and kitchen users of the facility and then, other locally produced food and beverages as well as “Island Good” products.
Additionally, PAPA has another building on the site for which they will soon be issuing an RFP to attract interests to work with us to transform what was, historically, a residence for the Fishermen’s Harbour manager into a new locally produced-focused food/beverage café/restaurant … “oyster bar” perhaps?!
Pat Deakin is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni. He can be reached at 250-720-2527 or Patrick_deakin@portalberni.ca