In 2022 the Township of Spallumcheen completed the Agri-Hub Feasibility Study. This study focused on Agri-Industry and the potential for an Agri-Hub to process locally produced food. One of the key findings was that many regional agricultural industries are constrained by a lack of adequate processing facilities (e.g. dairy, abattoirs, produce), product development, supply aggregation, cold storage, and warehousing.
What is an Agri-Hub?
An Agri-Hub project can connect private players in food production technology, post-secondary, innovation and research institutions, local and First Nations governments, farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural food chain to understand the food production capabilities and processing required within a region. While the commodities and priorities shift from hub to hub, all initiatives recognize that local small-scale food processors need assistance to facilitate discussions, identify key stakeholders and establish the regulatory pathway to start and scale up their potential businesses.
Why is an Agri-Hub Needed?
Food security has become a paramount issue in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change impacts (i.e., lack of Highway connection to the Lower Mainland due to flooding). The idea of locating an Agri-Hub within the North Okanagan is to provide opportunities for existing food producers to move towards value-added innovation and equipment to process and make more food within the region. This would result in a more sustainable and resilient regional food system.
In BC, there are 12 “food hubs” that are operating or under development, focusing on regional processing and innovation. The North Okanagan Agri-Hub could include food processing plants (milk, cheese, jams, juices, flour, grains), slaughterhouses/abattoirs, fruit and vegetable packing houses and cold storage facilities.
The Agri-Hub business model requires collaboration, shared resources, and business and political leadership. A business model which meets local farm and processor innovation needs must also be sustainable and market-focussed. Depending on the established processing facilities, the Regional Agri-Hub Complex could extend to servicing farmers from other Regional Districts.
Scope of Work and Project Schedule
The study area is approximately 42 ha and located at 4305 L & A Cross Road in the Township of Spallumcheen. The lands are in the BC Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and require Agricultural Land Commission approval to be used for non-agricultural purposes. It is anticipated the Regional Agri-hub Planning Process will take approximately 6-8 months to complete.