Gold River has been without a grocery store since 2016, but now plans are in the works to bring a co-op to the village.
The former SuperValue grocery store in Gold River has been sitting empty since November 2016. Brad Unger, the current mayor, says he used to own the store but was forced to close it due to a combination of declining sales after the TD Bank closed its branch in the store in 2014, and then Royal Bank called a small loan.
Unger said at the time the economy could support it and the population of 1,200 has grown now to about 1,400, but no one ever came to re-open the doors.
“Many people came and looked at it, but nobody picked up the keys and with plans to re-open the store,” said Unger.
So people in Gold River have had to drive an hour and 15 minutes to Campbell River or get groceries delivered by a local service.
Residents in Tahsis and some First Nations communities must drive at least twice as far.
“It was a little bit devastating I think because of the fact that when you really did need something you’d have to wait until you went to Campbell River,” said Gold River resident Janine Naswell.
However, plans are now in the works for a new grocery store. It is proposed to be a co-op of local members who pay a one-time $300 fee to get better deals, but the store will be open to everyone.
“We will have probably between 200 and 300 products, basics right now. There will be dry goods, frozen meat, bread and there will be produce,” said David Humphrey, one of the principals behind the venture.
Humphrey hopes to open the doors by the end of January and says lease agreements and deals with suppliers are currently being worked out.
Eventually, plans will include the ability to grow some of their own produce.
“We are committed to having food sustainability and security and we can through hydroponics, grow our produce here in enough quantity to supply Gold River and the surrounding area,” added Humphrey.
Humphrey says the membership fees are held in trust and that the operation will get started with a line of credit as well as financial grants and assistance with guarantees through the Federal Government.