The City of Port Alberni is applying for a federal grant to expand local food production.
The city will be applying to the federal government’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, which aims to reduce food insecurity across the country by establishing and strengthening local food systems.
Economic development manager Pat Deakin told council during a meeting on June 27 that the city is hoping to add some new food processing equipment to The Dock+ food hub, including a commercial juice extractor, commercial pasteurizer, meat cutting bandsaw, fruit washing station, fish filleting station and fruit prep equipment. The equipment will be stored at The Dock+ and can be used by community groups as needed.
“Which will allow them to expand the type of food that gets processed there,” said Deakin.
The city is also hoping to purchase some equipment that will improve food distribution, storage and transport at The Dock+ food hub.
The city has been working with several groups collaboratively on this project: the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA), the Alberni Valley Food Security Group, the Alberni Valley Farmers Institute and Community Futures. The total cost of the equipment is expected to be around $425,000. In order to be eligible for a grant, the city and its partners must contribute 25 percent of the cost. Deakin says PAPA will contribute “the bulk” of the funding, but council agreed on Monday to contribute $2,500 from the city’s economic development fund.
“One thing that COVID-19 really brought to light is how extremely fragile our supply chains are,” said Councillor Debbie Haggard. “It’s critically important that the city supports local food production and helps to ensure long-term food sustainability for our community.”