Co-op, HUB, plan shared workshop space for Cowichan Valley seniors

The idea for creating the first community workshop in the Cowichan Valley was spearheaded by Elder Care Co-op member/owner John Dunbar

Cowichan Elder Care Co-op and the Cowichan Station Area Association (which operates the “HUB”) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to plan and create the region’s first community workshop.

The concept of a community workshop seems to have originated in Australia, but here in British Columbia there is a very successful example in East Vancouver called the CoLab, which describes itself as a space to create and a community to learn and share.

The idea for creating the first community workshop in the Cowichan Valley was spearheaded by Elder Care Co-op member/owner John Dunbar, who, like many seniors (male and female alike), is downsizing his home of many years and, in the process losing his workshop and/or space to pursue hobbies.

“A community workshop offers a variety of ways for Co-op member/owners to socialize and do creative work, alone or in groups, and provide mentorship to younger people interested in learning how to use a wide variety of tools,” said Dunbar.

Local government staff seemed very interested in the idea and suggested several potential locations to the Co-op, which has also had exploratory discussions with Providence Farm, but there seemed to be a real meeting of minds when some of the Co-op’s member/owners met with the Cowichan Station Area Association.

Not only is the Cowichan Station Area Association excited by the idea of a community workshop at the HUB, but was already considering building an extension to the main building of almost the same size as the Co-op needs for the community workshop.

“When CSAA embarked on The HUB project, a major goal was to provide meaningful opportunities for youth and seniors to engage in their community,” said Cowichan Station Area Association’s executive director Barry O’ Riordan. “This development of a community woodwork shop at the HUB by the Elder Care Co-op is certainly a prime example. We at the CSAA are delighted to provide a home for this exciting venture. I see many benefits to come for both organizations as well as for the community at large and look forward to seeing this project move forward.”

The CoLab in East Vancouver charges an annual fee of $50 and monthly rates of $100 plus $100 damage deposit for key holders who can use the facility any time, but who must also donate five hours per month at pre-determined times to help novices.

The monthly rate for drop-in members is $50 and they can only use the facility at pre-determined times when key holders are there to supervise.

The MoU envisages that the monthly service fees will be set low enough to encourage maximum use of the facility, while also providing a steady revenue stream for the Co-op and income for the HUB.

The next step is to sign up 12 or more founding key holders who are prepared to assist with the construction of the addition. Key holders must also be members of the Co-op ($10 lifetime membership) and be prepared to pay a $100 deposit which will be held in a separate bank account until the community workshop is operational.

For more information, contact John Dunbar

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