The Comox Valley Regional District and the Economic Development Society hope to establish a Rural Community Food Hub at the Merville Hall. Black Press file photo

The Comox Valley Regional District and the Economic Development Society hope to establish a Rural Community Food Hub at the Merville Hall. Black Press file photo

Comox Valley Regional District board approve grant to establish rural food hub

The Comox Valley Regional District board has approved a $576,340 grant application to the Agriculture Ministry to establish a Rural Community Food Hub project at the Merville Hall.

The vote was not unanimous.

Area B director Arzeena Hamir said a presentation at committee of the whole Nov. 17 by Comox Valley Economic Development Society executive director John Watson was unclear, and did not involve the LUSH Valley Food Action Society and other organizations in the application process.

“It saddens me they were not included,” Hamir said at the Nov. 24 CVRD board meeting.

If funding goes ahead, she fears the needs expressed by LUSH for a food aggregation hub won’t be met.

“It will be highly unlikely that another grant will come to this community for a food hub.”

During Watson’s presentation, Hamir was under the impression the application did not exceed $500,000. Since it exceeds that amount, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification is required.

“Quite frankly, I was a little bit in shock at the poor quality of the presentation. I had no idea how much money I was approving, and for what exactly.”

Area C director Edwin Grieve said the district should be grateful for any grant money received. He noted that LUSH executive director Maurita Prato has met with representatives from CVEDS and the Comox Valley Farmers Institute. While the needs of LUSH are more along the distribution side, Grieve said the producers are more oriented to preparation and primary processing.

“I would say don’t turn your back on this, we need to support it,” Grieve said. “It’s saddening for me to see there’s a campaign out there to nip this thing in the bud, when in actuality it’s going to benefit everybody. It may not be perfect, but it could move this whole thing forward, and make better food security available for the Comox Valley and beyond.”

Area A director Daniel Arbour agreed with Grieve’s comments.

“I think it’s going to take more than one project to attain our ambitions around food security, and increasing farmland and viability in the Valley,” he said.

Besides Hamir, Courtenay director Wendy Morin — a member of the CV Food Policy Council — opposed the application. Along with LUSH, Morin said the council received feedback from the Mid-Island Farmers Institute, which represents numerous small scale producers not in favour of the proposal. She noted another pending application for $978,301 — submitted to the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program — will address commercial kitchen upgrades at the Merville Hall. However, she would liked to have seen research about food hubs that are more pertinent to the diverse needs of the community, and that employed the expertise of the Food Policy Council.

Morin is also concerned about mixed use at the Merville Hall. She also notes the district has many existing buildings that could be explored as potential food hub sites.

Along with Grieve and Arbour, Comox directors Ken Grant and Maureen Swift, and Courtenay directors Will Cole-Hamilton, Melanie McCollum and Doug Hillian support the grant application.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colin J.D. Crooks has published his debut novel, a fantasy titled “The Shards of Etherious: Arisen.” (headshot photo courtesy Joslyn Kilborn Photography)
Cumberland author delves into fantasy world with debut novel

The Shards of Etherious: Arisen is the first book of a five-book series

Cathy Browne is very proud of her new front door. All the new doors are lovely and create an individual look for each room. Photo submitted
Courtenay’s Glacier View Lodge dressing up its doorways for residents

Glacier View Lodge’s vision of ‘feels like home’ has been enhanced this… Continue reading

Ginette Matthews shows off some of the wares at The Local Refillery. Photo by Femke Overmaat
Pandemic meant going digital quickly for Courtenay’s Local Refillery

Owner Ginette Matthews says system keep business open in its early months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
Comox Valley RCMP asking public to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read