Smiths Falls town councillors have been asked to consider granting property tax relief to the non-profit Two Rivers Food Hub, which is still struggling to break even.
Founded in 2014, the Food Hub operates out of the Gallipeau Centre, and provides a number of services aimed at helping local food producers connect with customers.
Bruce Enloe, general manager, told Smiths Falls councillors at a special meeting Aug. 8 that the founders of the food hub began their efforts with the question, “How do we get more local food to more local buyers?”
Enloe, the former owner of The Branch restaurant in Kemptville, said most of the Food Hub’s revenue is derived from distribution. The centre also offers cold storage for locally-grown produce, provides access to industrial kitchen space for food processing, provides an online marketplace for food shoppers, and facilitates educational workshops.
The Food Hub works with over 90 food producers, including 31 vegetable growers and 24 meat producers, handling $600,000 in sales annually.
“We consider ourselves to be a job creator,” said Enloe. “Since we started, we’ve created seven new jobs, just at the Food Hub.”
Enloe said his board members had asked him to pass on a request for council to consider reducing or waiving property taxes for Food Hub. “We are a not-for-profit,” he said. “We’re still not at our break-even point; we’ve been working with grants and funders.”
Councillors suggested the Food Hub provide more financial information before they could consider the request.
“I would rather have a little more information and make an informed decision than debate about it tonight,” said Councillor Jay Brennan.