Cool Aid Society’s downtown Victoria community centre gets a new look

After months of non-stop renovations, Victoria Cool Aid Society’s downtown community center is almost complete and freshly painted.

HeroWork unveiled its new and improved community center on November 12, and renovations began in late August.

“Our kitchen was the smallest you could ever imagine before, it was the size of a closet. So when we did any kind of community kitchen program, we basically had to close the rest of the center,” says Victoria Love CEO Kathy Stinson told Black Press Media. “Now that we have this amazing kitchen, we can do some great things here, and the rest of the building can still have things going on at the same time.”

Stinson added that Cool Aid crews will be able to double their services and triple their programs in a space that is not only more efficient but also more aesthetically pleasing. “We’ll be able to serve more people and do more things,” she said. “That’s the biggest impact.”

The outdated community center serves approximately 6,000 people in greater Victoria each year. The Victoria Cool Aid Society says it will be able to help about 12,000 people a year from disadvantaged communities after the $700,000 refurbishment is complete.

HeroWork founder Paul Latour said the transformation of the community center will have an impact beyond the physical space it provides.

“It’s about serving the people who come here better. It’s about making it more accessible, making them feel better about themselves when they walk into the space, and giving employees a great space to work in, while Not a closet,” he said. “The impact is felt in the community, it’s not just a one-off. We looked at 13 different projects and measured these different impacts, and when you update philanthropic infrastructure, we see this across the board. It’s A key part because — outside of housing — the government doesn’t actually recognize charity spaces as community infrastructure.”

New elements added to the community center include an expanded community kitchen, reimagined floor layouts, new multipurpose spaces, gender-neutral restrooms, exterior gathering spaces, and more.

The revamped community center on Pandora Street will reopen and resume programming on December 5.

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