Vancouver Food Bank seeking help from developers for temporary warehouse space

Mar 9 2021, 5:49 pm

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) is appealing to real estate developers and landlords who might be able to assist the organization by offering free temporary warehouse space.

They are looking for a warehouse space between 5,000 sq ft and 10,000 sq ft in size.  A loading dock or loading bay is also needed to allow for a double line of food distribution to provide fast and efficient food access to up to 450 people who come through their doors daily.

This location must also have good public transit access, given that many people who receive assistance from the food bank travel to and from their food distribution hubs on public transit.

Such a space is needed as the food bank needs to vacate the existing temporary 10,000 sq ft space donated by LowTide Properties later this spring. The food bank has been using the free space since October 2020, but the developer now has plans for the building starting in June 2020.

The new replacement space would ideally be available for the food bank’s use for one or two years, and ideally within Vancouver, given that 60% of its recipients live in the city.

“The City of Vancouver, to date, has been unable to help us find a location, so we have to take matters into our own hands as the need is imminent. The summer will be here before we know it,” said David Long, the CEO of the GVFB, in a statement.

The food bank already leases two properties and does not want to spend more of its funding on a third lease, which would otherwise go to its food donation programs.

In 2019, GVFB relocated its headquarters and main warehouse from 1150 Raymur Avenue in Vancouver’s Strathcona area to 8345 Winston Street in Burnaby, near SkyTrain’s Production Way-University Station.

Last year, they also leased the former Greyhound bus facility at 1405 Thornton Street in the False Creek Flats as a mini-warehouse and daily pick-up location for almost 100 community agencies, but the renovations on this building have been delayed as the food bank is waiting for development and building permits from the City of Vancouver.

The food bank has missed its previously set target opening dates of January 2 and February 1 due to the municipal government’s delays. The new Thornton Street location requires the addition of a 20,000 cubic foot refrigeration unit.

There has been a spike in demand for the GVFB’s services over the past year due to the fallout of COVID-19. At the same time, the region is experiencing a shortage in industrial space, which has pushed up rents for warehouse spaces, affecting businesses, and non-profit organizations in the arts and entities such as the food bank.

Early on in the pandemic, the food bank was able to set up in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Mount Pleasant Community Centre, but after a few months, they had to vacate the premises.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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