The Alberni Valley's economy was traditionally based on fishing and logging. In recent years, Port Alberni has been called the Salmon Capital of the World, winning the first ever title of Ultimate Fishing Town, as awarded in 2010 by the American television network, World Fishing Network.
The Alberni Valley has a rich history as a leading producer of both terrestrial and marine food products. However, a lack of proper, modern processing and handling facilities severely hampered the growth for the seafood sector, due to the time-sensitive nature of its perishable products. Supporting access to capital and commercial equipment could increase commercial output, reduce spoilage and support secondary processing activities currently out of reach for many startup and small-scale producers.
This project, led by the Port Alberni Port Authority, has revitalized a dormant fish processing plant into a CFIA and Province of BC certified shared use food and beverage processing facility. The Alberni Valley Regional Food hub, known as The Dock+, provides business owners with affordable access to production facilities, specialized equipment, new technology, expertise and services, with separate sections available for shellfish, fin fish, seaweed and terrestrial food processing. The marine food processing sections, each with its own unique CFIA certification, is occupied by six anchor tenants. The terrestrial food processing section will be operated with a membership-based model, providing access to all shared-use equipment and facilities, with fees based on actual use.
The project is among the first four food hubs in BC to receive funding and designation from the Province of BC as a Regional Food Hub. The Dock+ Food hub will enable marine harvesters, as well as land-based farmers, to engage in value-added food processing, improve export opportunities and meet demand for locally produced and processed food. The Dock+ will also reduce key barriers to entry and growth for start up and small-scale producers, supporting the development of niche products and new, innovative food-sector companies. ICET’s economic analysis forecasts the project will bring more than $5 million in annual new economic activity, creating 27 permanent local jobs in the first 3-5 years. Project works were completed in early 2021.