PORT HARDY, BRITISH COLUMBIA — A new cold storage facility for fish and seafood will be constructed this Spring to serve the growing need on the North Island, led by the k'awat'si Economic Development General Partner Corporation (KEDC), a company founded to grow opportunities for the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw Nations (GNN). The 2.2 million pound capacity facility, to be located at Port Hardy's old mall site, will be built by the k'awat'si Construction Company and is set to begin operations in time for the summer sport fishing season.
The new facility will meet the North Island's growing demand for cold storage, which is currently 10 million pounds short of meeting capacity needs. It will also serve as a processing facility, with the potential to add specialty processing or shellfish deprivation as services on site.
"Our council is very proud of what KEDC has begun to accomplish in terms of new opportunities for our community in such a short time, this project is just one of many exciting initiatives we will be announcing this year," said Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw Chief Paddy Walkus. "We hope that this will continue as those in BC and across the country begin to catch on to the momentum building here on the North Island."
KEDC CEO, Conrad Browne agrees this project is an exciting step forward for the community. "As KEDC, our commitment is to building a strong, growth-focused community by undertaking innovative ventures that demonstrate that the GNN are serious about doing business. This venture is just one stage in a multi-stage approach that will see us participate in every step of the fishing cycle, in a sustainable way, something that is critically important to our community. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc at the site on fish processing and continuing to work with Coast Opportunity Funds and CIBC, who helped ensure we were ready to undertake this new initiative."
KEDC has created an agreement with successful local fish processors Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. to provide key seafood services under lease at the site. "This project has been three years in the making and we're very excited to see the project become a reality. The facility will be impactful, creating opportunities for the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw community and providing much-needed services to the North Island," said Bruce Dirom, President and CEO of Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc.
Keltic Seafoods has committed to being one of the new facilities' first committed customers. "This was a natural fit for us in terms of a mutually beneficial venture that will not only assist us in expanding our own capacity but will help position the northern coastal communities to be able to capitalize on future growth," said Mickey Flanagan, Keltic's CEO. "We are pleased to see the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw taking a greater role in leading the way in providing, reliable, knowledgeable and local seafood services and we are proud to be a part of this journey."
A second phase of development is being contemplated for the site that could see an additional more than 2 million pounds of storage realized in the coming years.
More information about the project as well as other KEDC initiatives, is available on the KEDC website at www.kedc.ca.
KEDC Owned Cold Storage Facility Set to Begin Construction in Port Hardy
- The k'awat'si Economic Development General Partner Corporation (KEDC) Cold Storage facility is an initiative that has been three-years in the making and is an example of collaboration in the community between several companies who are committed to meeting the growing demand for seafood services and storage on the North Island, the KEDC, Hardy Buoys and Keltic Seafoods.
- The North Island estimates that it is currently 10 million pounds short of the required cold storage to serve the growing needs of the local fishing community and the influx of sport fishers during the busy summer months.
- The new KEDC-owned storage facility, to be located at the Old Mall site on Trustee Road in Port Hardy, will have a capacity of 2.2 million pounds, with a 12-hour blast freezer and a 2,000 square foot fish processing facility.
- The cold storage will be used initially to store product for Keltic Seafoods, with the goal to serve the entire North Coast when additional space of more than 2 million pounds is added in subsequent phases in 2016.
- The construction of the cold storage facility will be completed by Kawat'si Construction, a Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw -owned company which employs local community members. The cold storage construction will create about half a dozen new jobs for locals, beginning March 2015, and completed in time for the summer fishing season.
- The KEDC Cold Storage Facility has been made possible through the financial support of Coast Opportunity Funds, who has been at the forefront of many costal community success stories, and through financing provided by CIBC.
- The Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw people are making significant steps toward economic self-sufficiency, and the cold storage facility creates a new economic opportunity to show leadership in sustainably managing the local food chain from catch to plate.
About the k'awat'si Economic Development General Partner Corporation LP (KEDC)
The k'awat'si Economic Development General Partner Corporation LP (KEDC) was created in 2014 to capitalize on a strong desire by the community desire to grow opportunities. KEDC's mandate is to investigate and realize revenue, prosperity, skills and development to the community. As a distinct entity, reporting to Chief and Council, KEDC is tasked with creating, operating and supporting businesses that will be profitable, environmentally sustainable and culturally significant, while simultaneously respecting the unique cultural values of the Gwa'sala 'Nakwaxda'xw people.
About Hardy Buoys
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. was founded in 1994 by Bruce and Carol Dirom. Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish has become one of the most recognizable smoked salmon brands on Vancouver Island, with their products found in major grocery store chains across Canada. Hardy Buoys operates out of a 27,000 square foot facility which is federally licensed, Kosher and HACCP approved and is one of the largest employers in Port Hardy. Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. is a member of the Canada Brand Strategy, any many of their products are part of the Sea Choice Program and the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Program.
About Keltic Seafoods
Since its establishment in 2000, Keltic Seafoods Ltd. has been operating at the same location and under the same ownership. They grade, sort, tally, and containerize and off-load a variety of seafood products daily, operating an approved food processing facility which offers full service custom processing, commercial cold storage, and blast freezing services. The strong demand for greater cold storage in the North Island region and adjacent areas has allowed Keltic Seafoods to expand their business while keeping it local. They employ close to 200 people in high production months, 80 per cent of which are First Nations community members.
Source: k'awat'si Economic Development General Partner Corporation LP (KEDC)