It's taken years from the initial concept to launch, but at last the Re-Build-It Centre is on its way.
With the assistance of donations, including $40,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and $10,000 from Ziptrek Ecotours, announced last week, the centre is just about ready to go on its lot in Function Junction.
"We're just trying to finish the site off and now we're in the permit stage," said Lorna Van Straaten, the interim executive director for the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS).
"When it opens depends now on how fast our permitting can move through the municipality. Alex Kleinman is our project manager and he's just putting the finishing touches on things like our signage application and working on building shelving."
When complete, the Re-Built-It Centre will accept waste construction materials that are in good condition and can be re-used by others. That could include unused and leftover building supplies from construction projects, or used materials that are being removed during a home renovation.
Like the Re-Use-It Centre, the Re-Build-It Centre will accept the materials by donation, then sell them to generate funding for the Whistler Community Services Society, which provides programs like the Whistler Food Bank.
The Re-Build-It Centre will also divert construction waste out of the landfill, while giving do-it-yourselfers a more affordable option.
The original concept would have placed the Re-Build-It Centre beside the Re-Use-It Centre, but working with the municipality the WCCS agreed that there wasn't enough room at that location. The RMOW offered a site near the waste transfer station in the Callaghan, but the WCSS felt that would be too far for many users.
Instead they negotiated for 5,000 square feet of yard in Function Junction with a private owner, which is on the small side but will be enough to gauge the level of interest in re-selling building materials.
"There are going to be space constrictions to be honest, so we will have to be careful what we accept," said Van Straaten. "We will only accept higher-end donations at first, but obviously if there is a market we can look for more space or an expansion.
"We will start small and see if there is a demand for the materials in Whistler, which we're sure there is, but then we can make the business case after a year and see the traffic and donations. In an ideal world, the ultimate goal will be to merge the Re-Use-It and Re-Build-It Centre at a site in the future."
One idea they came up with was to post pictures of materials that are available at the Re-Use-It Centre and Re-Build-It Centre so that they can facilitate a sale without the materials ever arriving at the yard. For example, people can post photos of kitchens or bathrooms that are up for renovations, and buyers can arrange to purchase that material through the Re-Built-It Centre. Those pictures will be at the Re-Use-It Centre, Re-Build-It Centre and posted online on Craigslist.
"It's velvet gloves deconstruction, where we send in a contractor that we've hired to carefully take it apart," Van Stratten explained. "If it's done properly a lot of the material will never hit the ground."
The buildings on site include a few repurposed shipping containers, as well as a half trailer donated by Atco, which will house the Re-Build-It Centre office. That office will have information for users, including educational materials on using building supplies and how to build green.
David Udow, co-owner of Ziptrek, voiced his support for the centre this week.
"We are thrilled that Ziptrek Ecotours can make the RBI a reality in Whistler," he said. "The RBI will not only keep things out of the landfill, but will also provide an affordable alternative for building products - and it'll create jobs and fund social programs - all at the same time. This is a perfect example of sustainability in action and Ziptrek is proud to be part of this tremendous initiative."
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