A new sign went up at Port Alberni’s food hub in mid-January 2021. (TWITTER PHOTO)

Port Alberni food hub opens commercial kitchen space

Businesses, charitable organizations and individuals can use the facility

A commercial kitchen space has opened at Port Alberni’s waterfront food hub.

In partnership with the City of Port Alberni—with funding support from the Province of British Columbia and Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET)—the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) announced on Feb. 16 the opening of The Kitchen located at The Dock+ food hub.

The Dock+ opened in July 2020 with a few “anchor” tenants who process seafood. While these businesses began operations, PAPA began work towards the completion of a commercial kitchen space that food processors can use to refine or develop new products.

READ MORE: Port Alberni Food Hub opens to seafood processors

Despite challenges posed by COVID-19 during the construction period, The Kitchen at The Dock+ is now ready and available for any business, charitable organization, individual or others requiring a facility to make their food or beverage products.

All users of The Kitchen at The Dock+ will be able to rent blocks of time in advance through an online reservation system. After becoming a member of The Kitchen, all users will be provided with an initial orientation session that includes training about the facility’s equipment, safety and cleaning protocols, as well as a key card for entry and online reservation system access.

“We are all very proud to announce the completion of this next phase in the development of The Dock+,” said PAPA President and CEO Zoran Knezevic in a press release. “So many people have been excited to learn of when The Kitchen will be ready. We share their enthusiasm and look forward to seeing all kinds of great baking, soups, juices, jams, meals, etc. made there to help launch new business growth.”

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Lana Popham offered her congratulations on the opening of The Kitchen.

“This space will further enhance the Dock+ food hub and help the region’s food and beverage processors take their products to the next level,” she said. “Food hubs play an important role in growing the local economy, creating jobs and providing increased business opportunities, and we’re proud to invest in them so we can have greater food security and support British Columbians on the road to economic recovery.”

READ MORE: Seaweed farming opens world of opportunity for coastal B.C.

“We are thrilled that all the hard-work and tenacity to make The Dock+ food hub a reality has come to fruition,” added ICET CEO Line Robert. “Helping small scale food producers scale up is a cornerstone of our work and integral to the sustainability of the region’s agri-food industry. We’re honoured to have been a part of this journey.”

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions also expressed her support for the new space.

“The Kitchen at the Dock provides individuals and small businesses with an opportunity to access equipment that would otherwise be unaffordable,” she said. “The possibility to create a business from a culinary passion will fulfill a dream for many and we are grateful to the funders and the Port Authority for making the food hub a reality.”

PAPA has further plans for a retail shop and the development of a new café or boutique restaurant in a nearby building that would focus on locally-produced food and drink.

“Having a shop and a restaurant, such as an oyster bar, using products made in The Dock+ would really highlight the food hub within our community,” said Knezevic. “The goal is to achieve the amazing potential of our local food sector and proudly share it with the world.”

To reserve your time in The Kitchen, visit the food hub’s new website at www.thedockplus.ca.

Alberni Valley News