Small grocery store planned for Abbotsford’s historic downtown

Small grocery store planned for Abbotsford’s historic downtown

Local Food Supply Co. would operate out of Rail District building on West Railway Street

Abbotsford’s downtown is expected to welcome thousands of new residents within the next couple years. But while the city wants to make it easy to live in the historic downtown urban centre without a car, the area has a notable dearth of grocery stores within walking distance of many new homes that are going up.

Plans are in the works to try to bridge that gap, however.

A trio of local businesspeople have submitted an application to the city to add a small new grocery and bread store to the Rail District Market site on West Railway Street.

The proposal is being led by Field House brewing owner Josh Vanderheide, Jason Lepp of Lepp Farms and Farm Market and Josh McWilliams of the YVR Prep Commisary Kitchen. The “Local Food Supply Co.” would be located in the old Buckerfields building, which Vanderheide’s Rail District Collective had recently redesigned to host special events like concerts, and provide space for local entrepreneurs and cooks. With COVID-19 putting such events on hold and spotlighting food security issues, the proponents say their business will meet the needs of both downtown consumers and local farmers. The vision is to offer food sourced directly from the Fraser Valley array of local farms.

The business is already taking online orders and delivering food to customers, using the West Railway building as a distribution hub. And the company is partnering with the Abbotsford food bank to allow residents to sponsor food hampers for families through its website.

Vanderheide says the group hopes to eventually bring back entertainment at the site, but it’s unclear when that will be possible.

To proceed, the project still needs a building permit from Abbotsford city hall, but Vanderheide says they hope to be able to open this fall.

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