A temporary warehousing and distribution centre opens in Parksville this month to support local businesses and serve regional customers.
Called DELVI, for Deliver Vancouver Island, it will be relocated once a new 30,000-square-foot warehouse is built in Errington in 2023.
The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce said the 20,000-square-foot temporary centre at 1210 Industrial Way will open Oct. 15, when storage racks, forklifts and warehouse workers will be in place.
The centre is aimed at small and medium-sized Island businesses figuring out how to adapt and service customers in a retail environment changed by the pandemic. It will assist businesses as they deal with more online sales.
Corry Hostetter, economic development co-ordinator for Oceanside Initiatives, which provides an economic development service for the Parksville chamber, said: “There has been an increase in businesses expanding their online sales presence in nearly every community on Vancouver Island.
“However, many island businesses do not have the ability to warehouse or fulfil orders in a cost-effective way and shipping costs are expensive, which lower profit margins significantly.”
As well as the Parksville chamber, Oceanside Initiatives is made up of municipalities and organizations that include the Nanoose First Nation, the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum. The project received $620,000 from the province.
The Nanoose First Nation will build the larger warehouse on its land in Errington and lease it to the project.
Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville and Qualicum Chambers of Commerce, said the centre offers potential and opportunity to grow for small and medium-size businesses.
The centre is focused on providing room for storage, immediate pickup and pack services, and low-cost same-day and next-day delivery of goods.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker said opening the temporary facility is a “positive step in supporting business owners who’ve had to shift and adapt to our new circumstances and change how they deliver goods as a result of the pandemic.”
Retail giant Amazon is opening its own 230,000-square-foot distribution centre next year on Victoria International Airport land to serve the Island. Burden does not think it will affect the smaller facility.
“We don’t think that our target audience is the same as the Amazon target audience,” he said.
”Amazon is more about delivering locally from international suppliers. We are looking at delivering locally from local suppliers.”
Burden figures there is an initial base of 200 to 250 local suppliers and anticipates that number will increase.
“We’ve done a lot of research and we believe there is a good market for it. But until they actually come through the door, it’s hard to say.”
The centre will dovetail with the Support Local efforts of recent months, he said.