Despite the unstable business environment because of COVID-19, four new seafood processors are moving into a refurbished building on Port Alberni’s waterfront.
The building has sat idle for years but with a renovation, it’s been repurposed.
Tenants have just started moving into the facility.
“It’s very exciting to see something like this happen,” said Zoran Knezevic, the Port Alberni Port Authority’s President and CEO.
“We have been trying for a number of years to get this facility opened and ready to process all the seafood that gets caught in Alberni Inlet and Barclay Sound.”
The building has sat vacant since Port Fish last worked in the building in 2009.
In the past year, the port authority has spent more than $1.5 million fixing up the building with significant contributions from the province and the Island Economic Trust.
And now five anchor tenants, all seafood processors, will be moving in creating up to 30 new jobs for the Alberni Valley
“So we’ll not be seeing that seafood moving through town anymore. They will be able to process it here and add value to the fish that is caught in Alberni Inlet,” said Knezevic.
One of the tenants is Flurer Smokery. The Indigenous-owned company is moving its operations to the facility from Campbell River.
“It was very important for us. We need to have a federally registerable building and building availability even on Vancouver Island is quite minimal so having access to a federally registerable building as well as the west coast fishery is a huge opportunity for us,” said Kelly Flurer, an owner.
Flurer Smokery hopes to be up and running in August.
The move is allowing the company to expand and hire new employees.
“Right now we have three that are coming with us from Campbell River and we’ll be looking at hiring about five or so more,” said Flurer.
The Port Alberni Port Authority says the building will also have a commercial kitchen that companies can lease for periods of time. Expected uses include making soups and pickling mushrooms as the port authority uses its prime waterfront to benefit the region.
You can find the Port Alberni Port Authority news release here.