The Gabriola Arts Council is renovating the Arts and Heritage Centre and creating local jobs thanks to a grant from the provincial government and money from donors.
The arts council received $169,403 from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation through the Job Creation Partnership program to hire three construction workers, Tim Van Wieren, Derek Mourau and Geordie MacGregor and one events coordinator, Elisa Rey. Rey will work with Alina Cerminara, Gabriola Arts Council’s event manager.
Construction and renovations began in October and the events coordinator started Nov.17.
Michelle Benjamin, executive director of the Gabriola Arts Council, said the organization has been working on securing funding for the project for the past year.
“It’s this beautiful old heritage building that was one of the old one-room schoolhouses on the island,” said Benjamin.
She said the heritage centre was originally built in 1928 as a school and was donated to the arts council in September 2015 by the Gabriola Women’s Institute.
Renovations include upgrading the electrical to new code standards, installing new insulation, updating the foundation and adding plumbing.
Renovations on a hand-built log structure on the property are also being done. The log structure will be the new home of administration offices for the arts council.
“We are the stewards of this building for the community,” said Benjamin.
The provincial funding only covered the money to pay wages for the workers. The Gabriola Arts Council also secured funding for the renovations, which totalled about $160,000 through grants from the B.C. Arts Council, Canada 150 program, Heritage B.C. and donations. Bullfrog Power and GabEnergy also donated solar panels to be installed on the roof of the heritage centre.
Benjamin said the renovations to the centre are expected to be compete in February and renovations for the log structure are slated to be completed by the end of July.
The council is still accepting donations, which can be made at http://artsgabriola.ca.