‘It’s a sad day’: HeroWork closing its doors after 10 years of helping community

'It's a sad day': HeroWork closing its doors after 10 years of helping community
Paul Latour tours a newly renovated kitchen for Mustard Seed in June 2018. (File photo)

After 10 years of helping breathe new life into local charities, HeroWork is closing its doors.

“It was so difficult to come to this decision, because it means so much. It’s been my heart and soul for the last 10 years. It’s a sad day,” said Paul Latour, CEO and founder of HeroWork.

HeroWork is a charity that renovates buildings for other charities within the Greater Victoria region. Since 2014, HeroWork says they’ve has renovated 17 buildings, to the tune of $8 million, for charities serving vulnerable people in Greater Victoria.

One of its latest clients was Power To Be, which delivers outdoor programming for people facing barriers. They’d dreamt up the construction of a pavilion, indoor multipurpose space and accessible nature play space on their land at Prospect Lake.

“We found out in an email Thursday afternoon and had no prior warning,” said Dana Hutchings, co-CEO of Power To Be. “We were told HeroWork could be ceasing operations, ceasing our project. So that’s where we’re at.”

As they suddenly shuttered, Power To Be has been left with a project that’s half finished.

“It came as a shock.” said Jason Cole, co-CEO of Power To Be. “We didn’t have much of an indication they were struggling or the project was struggling.”

An increase in construction costs, reduced returns on fundraising and financial losses on renovation projects relating to the changing market conditions and economic downtown, are all factors in why HeroWork is closing.

“Our costs now for a project is three times what they were pre-pandemic, economic downturn which has lowered fundraising considerably, and concessive losses on projects has caused us to wind up our operations,” Latour told CHEK News.

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It’s a sentiment echoed by industry.

“The cost of materials, the shortage of labour, rising inflation, everything is playing havoc on our industry but entire economy of British Columbia right now,” said Chris Atchison, president of the BC Construction Association.

For Power to Be, they’ve been left in a tough spot, scrambling to get an idea of what needs to be done and the cost, in a time where donations are low.

But their dream of expanding, isn’t dead.

“We’ve got to roll up our sleeves to find some additional help from the community to get this project done so we can continue to offer accessible programming in the community,” said Cole.

Cole says construction partners are already stepping up offering to finish the work pro bono, or at discounted rates, and are using the opportunity to ask the public to donate to their organization if they can.

For Greater Victoria’s non profit sector, HeroWork’s closure likely means difficulty ahead.

“Although HeroWork will no longer exist, the need for renewing charity infrastructure remains,” said Latour. “I think it’s going to be a bigger challenge now for charities to renew their infrastructure here in Victoria.

After the renovations done by HeroWork, the charities saw an increase in services, higher quality services, better client access, improved organizational efficiency increased revenue and reduced costs according to a social and economic impact analysis.

HeroWork was involved in the renovations of the Indigenous Perspectives Society, Our Place’s therapeutic recovery community, kitchen for Peers Victoria Resources Society, Mustard Seed, and Cool Aid’s downtown shelter.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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