The Skills Centre in Trail has put the renovation contract for its new location out to tender.
The organization, which provides free and low-cost skills training and employment programs, bought 1060 Eldorado St. last fall.
Executive director Morag Carter says there are two buildings on one parcel, but the building they plan to renovate is the old Service BC building, which has seen a variety of uses since it was built in 1932, including as an armory and a bingo hall.
She said their plan is to renovate the entire interior and to remove and replace insulation, windows, and doors, and add an elevator.
Among the key features will be the addition of a community kitchen. Carter noted they have been running poverty reduction programs for several years and co-ordinate the regional poverty reduction strategy with funding from the City of Trail.
A key element of those programs has been access to food and food security. They have relied on commercial kitchens wherever they are available, but often through Knox United Church.
“They’ve been a really great partner for us on this, but one of the things we wanted to achieve with this building was for it to be a fully accessible community space,” Carter said.
“Knox United Church have been really wonderful partners for us but they don’t have the kind of accessibility requirements we’re looking at now. Ultimately that’s the reason for installing the community kitchen.”
Carter said because they plan to partner with other organizations who deliver food-related programs, they hope the kitchen will be available to people of all ages. Mindful of the building’s environmental footprint, they are looking at electrical appliances including induction stoves.
Solar panels will also go on the roof of the building next door to the one being renovated in order to generate 50 kilowatts. Carter said they believe it will be the first commercial building in Trail to produce that much solar power.
While the panels won’t be visible from street level, they plan to install a real-time monitor on the side of the building showing how much power is being generated.
“We’re super excited about this building and some of the elements that are going to be installed,” Carter said.
The organization made an offer on the building in the fall of 2021 and then spent about a year doing engineering studies and looking at the building’s infrastructure before the sale was finalized last September.
The Skills Centre has been in the Fortis building for the past 20 years but Carter said space has become an issue for them and they feel investing in their own building is good move for the organization’s stability.
“We wanted to make that investment in a way that provided really good value for the community,” she said.
“We want to take what is a fairly dilapidated asset and transform that into a vibrant, accessible, inclusive community space that provides fantastic programming for every member of the community.
“This is the reason we’re hoping to partner with a range of other organizations, so we can provide services and programming for as many people as possible in the community.”
They are hoping the renovations can begin in April and be completed by the end of the year so they can move in in 2024. Carter said they will continue to rent space to other organizations within the complex, including gymnasium space to the Steps dance program and storage units.
Last month it was announced the Skills Centre would receive $2.3 million in federal funding for the project, which has an overall price tag of about $6 million between the building purchase and the retrofits.