It’s been a long haul: breathing new life into a derelict school building, making it into a vibrant community centre, but the folks at the Hub at Cowichan Station are getting ready to celebrate.
Volunteers and residents in the rural area have been excited to see months of hard work and fundraising bear fruit. During August and September, $92,000 worth of exterior renovations have been done, making the grounds more welcoming, accessible, and safe, and even enabling a new child care facility. Paint and carpentry repairs, improved lighting, pathways, parking, signage and access for Hub visitors, and construction of an outdoor “Welcome Shelter” with community info boards have all been part of the project.
The Cowichan Station Area Association has been diligent in finding funding from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, (a matching contribution of $46,000).
“We have come such a long way since 2011 to transform our boarded-up former school into the vibrant, active, and beautiful Hub, providing a regional space for arts, recreation and community,” Barry O’Riordan, CSAA executive director said. “This suite of repairs and renovations are the next step, just in time to join other communities across the country who are sprucing up for Canada’s 150th anniversary next year. Kudos to our volunteers on the Design Team for leading and supervising this inspiring project.”
There’s also been funding from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development ($23,400 to support new child care spaces).
“Community members have been asking for a daycare since the first public meetings after the school closed,” Jill Thompson, CSAA board president said.
September finally saw the opening of the new International Montessori Academy of Cowichan Station as an anchor tenant in the Hub’s Annex.
Finally, donations, engraved brick purchases, and support for fundraising events has been outstanding, organizers say.