Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank executive director, on land the non-profit is in the process of purchasing on East Wellington Road in Nanaimo. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Loaves and Fishes food bank sets sights on land on East Wellington Road in Nanaimo

Nanaimo non-profit has outgrown Fry Street Warehouse

After announcing intentions to relocate to a bigger facility last year, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank is close to securing a new location in Nanaimo.

Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes’ executive director, told the News Bulletin the food bank is working to have conditions removed on April 9 and take possession of a property May 7, on East Wellington Road, near the Canada Post office. Sinclair previously said the Nanaimo non-profit has outgrown its warehouse on Fry Street.

“We’ve been looking for well over a year now for an appropriate piece of land and then in October of 2020, we started leasing that piece of land for use in our Empties 4 Food [bottle collection] program and through that lease, began talking to the owner about purchasing it,” said Sinclair.

There are no structures on the site currently, Sinclair said, and Saywell Contracting Ltd. will assist with design and construction for the eventual warehouse facility that will occupy the space. The project is in a very early stage, Sinclair said, with the non-profit still having to go through the development process with the City of Nanaimo, get a building permit and a number of other steps.

The non-profit envisions an approximately 30,000-square foot facility that would service not just people in Nanaimo, but people across the Island, as Loaves and Fishes serves as a distribution hub for other food banks and non-profits. It would look to “scale up” its food recovery efforts, not only locally, but accessing more food on the provincial and national level, he said.

“The other thing that a larger facility would do is allow us to better serve our clients,” said Sinclair. “We’d have a grocery store-type area in it, so we’d continue to offer our satellite depots throughout the city, but we’d like to have a distribution facility attached right to our warehouse. There’d be a lot of efficiencies to be gained.”

Sinclair said the non-profit is currently in discussion with the city, asking for money to go toward the land purchase and is working with the provincial government on potential funding of construction costs.

“In terms of equipment that we will need within the facility, we’re applying for grants and we’ve actually got some of the equipment already, but there’ll be more that we’ll be seeking through grants and then there will be an appeal to the community,” said Sinclair. “At this point, without the detailed plans … we don’t have [a] complete budget as of yet.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo granted $95,000 to the non-profit for a new warehouse in January as part of zero-waste initiative money.

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