It’s not if, but when.
“I can already sense that I’m in the place,”says Brian McArthur.
He’s talking about a dream, soon to become reality: a large, busy workshop in Nelson where woodworkers gather to learn, teach, do projects, and hone their skills.
“Walking into that shop is going to feel amazing,” McArther says. “It will have that comfortable sense of people in the community working together and getting excited about each other’s projects.”
West Arm Woodworking Coop has already been formed. They have a lot of tools and many interested woodworkers.
All they need is a building and some funding for startup costs.
The co-op is looking for a minimum of 3,000 square feet in Nelson.
“We’ll be offering workshops and on-site mentorship, so somebody can come in if they want to build something, maybe a shelf for their home, and the mentor will be there to help them.”
He said it would be collaborative space where people can share skills.
“It would be community hub for woodworkers,” says co-founder Hannah Deboer-Smith, who is a graduate of the Selkirk College Fine Woodworking program, “with a welcoming space at the front, and open to the public so people can see what people are doing. A warm space.”
In addition to McArthur and Deboer-Smith, the other founders are Ryan Dury, Danielle Soucie, and Dayne Mortimer.
The co-op put out an online survey last year to gauge the demand.
“I didn’t expect anybody to do the survey,” McArthur says. “And we got 200 responses. We asked how often would you want to use the co op, what hours of the day. And just from that survey, it was going to be double the capacity of the building we were thinking of.”
McArthur is also a graduate of the Selkirk program and he is now a relief instructor there. He says most graduates of the program “need a place to land … you’re left feeling isolated on your own, and you have no place to practice what you’ve learned.”
McArthur says the coop already has a number of the larger industrial tools such as planers, jointers, and shapers, and will be getting more, even hopefully a hydraulic veneer press. There would be safety training on these. At least in the beginning, members would bring their own hand tools.
The co-op is looking for start-up funding, but McArthur says it shouldn’t be a problem “because there is so much interest from the community about this.”