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Port Alberni receives provincial funding for food hub

Seafood processing hub will be operated by Port Alberni Port Authority
The former Port Fish building (which used to process hake and groundfish) will be turned into a regional seafood processing hub. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO

Port Alberni will be the home of a new regional food hub thanks to some provincial funding.

On Oct. 17, the province announced up to $1.5 million in funding for B.C.’s two newest regional food hubs in Port Alberni and Surrey.

The Port Alberni Full-Scale Food Processing and Innovation Hub will be operated by the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) and will primarily serve seafood processors. The hub will help clients research and develop innovative products, grow their businesses and support the local economy, community and farmers, as well as create local jobs.

Hub operators were selected through a competitive request for proposals. The City of Port Alberni submitted a proposal in July of this year, with PAPA offering matching funds to bring the former Port Fish plant (located near Tyee Landing) up to current seafood processing standards. Canadian Seafood Processing and Effingham Oysters have already expressed interest.

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Pat Deakin, Port Alberni’s economic development manager, said in a press release that the city is “thrilled” to receive the funding from the province.

“The facility will be owned and operated by the Port Alberni Port Authority, which has committed $500,000 to the hub,” he said. “This is a legacy project that will increase the viability of local food producers, while helping grow this sector throughout the region, spurring the economy and creating good jobs in the community.”

Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid-Island Pacific Rim, added that the region is “rich” with opportunities to grow the local food processing sector.

“This new food hub will help businesses increase product value and revenues, expand production and employ more people in the community,” he added. “I want to congratulate the local businesses, Indigenous communities, North Island College, Port Alberni Port Authority, City of Port Alberni and all the partners that came together to make this project a reality.”

A food hub is a centralized shared-use food and beverage processing facility that provides business owners with affordable access to production facilities, specialized equipment, new technology, research and development, expertise and services. The hubs will bring more opportunities for farmers, ranchers and wild harvesters to increase revenue by adding value to their products.

The new facility in Port Alberni will help build and connect future regional food hubs in other communities to create the B.C. Food Hub Network.