Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank executive director, on East Wellington Road land in Nanaimo, where the non-profit plans on building a new warehouse facility. (News Bulletin file)

Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank executive director, on East Wellington Road land in Nanaimo, where the non-profit plans on building a new warehouse facility. (News Bulletin file)

City of Nanaimo unanimously approves 30-year Loaves and Fishes land lease

Non-profit food bank will be responsible for raising money to construct warehouse on site

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank can expand operations and build a warehouse now that it’s entering into a long-term land lease with the City of Nanaimo.

Earlier in December, the city announced it had purchased the 1.4 acres of land on East Wellington Road for $1.3 million and at its regular meeting Dec. 20, council unanimously approved a 30-year lease to Loaves and Fishes for $10 beginning Feb. 1.

The non-profit, which collects excess food from grocery stores for re-distribution, approached the city in March, seeking financial assistance for a 25,000-square-foot warehouse. As part of the lease, the food bank will have five years in which to build the warehouse.

In 2020, the food bank accessed and distributed $6.2 million worth of food, with more than a quarter of that going to other non-profits in the community, said Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes executive director, at the meeting. For 2021, it is estimated $6.5 million worth of food was collected, with $2 million going to other community agencies, he said.

All the food has “created a jam” at Loaves and Fishes’ current 6,000-square-foot warehouse on Fry Street, according to Sinclair. The non-profit has drafted a warehouse design with the assistance of Saywell Contracting Ltd.

“This will look like a grocery store where people can come and access food,” Sinclair told council. “One of the great benefits of this will be that it will give increased hours of operation for people to come pick up food from us. We anticipate being open at least five days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which will make things a lot easier for people in need.”

When asked by Coun. Don Bonner about potential for kitchen facilities, Sinclair said it is something being considered, but there are parking-related issues.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said a lot of money is involved, but is necessary.

“This is … a huge investment … and I’ll be honest with you, that gave me cause to hestitate, but I have been won over, and it didn’t take a lot, by the obvious benefit that Loaves and Fishes brings to our community and in fact the entire central Island area,” said Thorpe.

Sinclair said Loaves and Fishes hopes to apply for a development permit early in the new year and said the food bank has plans for a concerted fundraising effort, as it will be responsible for construction costs.

Bill Corsan, city director of community development, told council there is an option for renewal and renegotiation when the lease is reaching expiration.

In terms of the fate of Loaves and Fishes’ current Fry Street site, Sinclair said a decision will be made after services have been relocated to East Wellington Road.

RELATED: City buys property for Loaves and Fishes to build warehouse

RELATED: Loaves and Fishes sets sights on East Wellington Road land



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