After months of non-stop renovation, Victoria Cool Aid Society’s downtown community centre is nearly done and dusted.
HeroWork revealed the new and improved community centre on Nov. 12, with work on renovations beginning in late August.
“We had the tiniest kitchen you could imagine before, it was like the size of a closet. So when we were doing any kind of community kitchen program, we basically had to shut the rest of the centre down,” Victoria Cool Aid Society chief executive officer Kathy Stinson told Black Press Media. “Now we have this amazing kitchen where we can do some great things, and things can still happen in other parts of the building at the same time.”
Stinson added that Cool Aid staff will be able to double their services and triple their programming in a space that’s not only more efficient, but esthetically pleasing. “We’re going to be able to serve more people and do more things,” she said. “That’s the biggest impact.”
The outdated community centre served approximately 6,000 people across Greater Victoria each year. After the renovation valued at $700,000, Victoria Cool Aid Society says it will be able to reach about 12,000 people from vulnerable communities annually.
Paul Latour, HeroWork founder, says the impact of the community centre’s transformation will go beyond the physical space it provides.
“It’s about servicing the people who come here better. It’s about making it more accessible, having them feel better about themselves as they walk into this space and having a good space for staff to work in that isn’t a closet,” he said. “The impact ripples out into the community, and this isn’t just a one-off. We’ve looked at 13 different projects and measured what those different impacts were, and we see this impact across the board when you renew charity infrastructure. And that’s a key piece because – outside of housing – the government doesn’t actually recognize charity space as community infrastructure.”
New elements added to the community centre include an expanded community kitchen, re-envisioned floor layout, new multi-purpose space, gender-neutral washrooms, exterior gathering space and more.
The revamped community centre located on Pandora Street reopens its doors and resumes programming on Dec. 5.
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