Renovations underway at Cool Aid’s downtown shelter aim to increase community impact

Renovations underway at Cool Aid's downtown shelter aim to increase community impact
Renovations are now underway at the Cool Aid's Downtown Community Centre on Pandora Ave. in Victoria.

HeroWork Victoria kicked off its latest “radical renovation” at the Cool Aid Society’s Pandora Avenue location on Saturday.

The Cool Aid’s Downtown Community Centre (DCC) serves as an emergency shelter that offers supportive and transitional housing and works to provide long-term solutions to homelessness in Greater Victoria.

The centre also offers employment assistance services and a community health and dental clinic, among many other supports.

According to Trevor Botkin, general manager at HeroWork, the DCC was long overdue for upgrades due to restrictions stemming from the building’s old design. 

“It hasn’t kept up to the times,” Botkin told CHEK News. “It had some limitations and restrictions prior to the pandemic that were exaggerated because of the pandemic, so the building has been offline, so to speak.”

“But it is a unique resource to the Victoria community, unique not only to the organization Cool Aid but unique to the Greater Victoria area.”

When complete, the DCC will have a more efficient layout, an expanded community kitchen, new accessible and gender-neutral washrooms, new exterior gathering places and more. 

It’s another makeover project that HeroWork, a registered charity, will eventually add to its extensive list of completed non-profit renovations aimed at increasing community impact.

“We’ve gutted this building. It was dimly lit. The paint hadn’t been refreshed, and it was really restricted by this tiny kitchen they had,” Botkin explained. 

“Once they started using that kitchen, they had to shut down the rest of the building because there wasn’t enough room to cook and do food prep.”

The value of the project, estimated at $700,000, is expected to be completed by mid-November.

This weekend marked the first “event weekend” at the DCC, meaning HeroWork will welcome up to 70 volunteers on site to help with the renovation every event weekend until the grand opening.

Anyone interested in volunteering can get involved via this website.


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