This B.C. village has not had a grocery store for 5 years. That could be about to change

·2 min read
The Super Valu in Gold River on Vancouver Island closed in 2016 and since that time, residents of the remote village have had to commute 90 kilometres each way to Campbell River to stock their pantries. (Google Maps - image credit)
The Super Valu in Gold River on Vancouver Island closed in 2016 and since that time, residents of the remote village have had to commute 90 kilometres each way to Campbell River to stock their pantries. (Google Maps - image credit)

Getting milk and meat in Gold River, British Columbia could be way less work come January.

The remote village on Vancouver Island has not had a grocery store since 2016 when the only Super Valu closed its doors for good. Since then, the approximately 1,200 residents of the remote community have had to drive 90 kilometres each way to Campbell River to stock up.

People can pick up a few things in town at a small deli, but for real groceries, Campbell River, located east of the village along Highway 28, is the closest option

Now, a group of locals is trying to get a co-op open by January so that come 2022, the era of filling the gas tank to fill the pantry can end.

"It's at least $30 a trip just to get the groceries and groceries are expensive enough as it is," said David Humphrey, one of the founding board members for the new co-op.

The co-op model means members will pay dues and have a decision-making stake in the store, as opposed to when a store is owned by a private company or individual.

Humphrey, speaking Thursday on CBC's On The Island, said the board has already signed up at least 60 members and must have 100 people on board by the end of November to open by January in an already chosen location.

"I'm confident we can get it," said Humphrey, adding when the board surveyed people on Facebook to see if they would be interested, more than 500 people said they were.

Those interested are not only from Gold River, but also from the neighbouring communities of Woss and Tahsis where residents have an even further drive to go for grub.

And the drive to Campbell River can be challenging.

During the winter, roads get snowy and slushy, and many people don't own cars.

Since the Super Valu closed, Humphrey said there have been a few attempts to get another grocery store off the ground but nothing has worked yet.

There is a one-time lifetime fee of $300 to become a co-op member and all members will have a vote in how the store operates and a say in what is sold on its shelves.

"It's something that I really think brings the village together," said Humphrey about the planned enterprise.

And when it comes to the membership fee, he says it will pay itself off eventually.

"That's 10 trips to Campbell River."

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