CONSTANCE BAY – It’s been years of challenges, hurdles and hard work, but the NorthWind Wireless Fibe Centre (Constance Bay and Buckham’s Bay community centre) will finally be getting a new, multi-purpose kitchen.
The project to bring a commercial kitchen that could serve the variety of unique user groups at the NorthWind Centre began in 2015, shortly after the grand opening of the new addition at the recreation centre. At the time of those renovations, funding shortages prevented the new kitchen from happening at that time and “the kitchen became Phase II.”
“We were planning to build a new kitchen, starting with a ‘warming kitchen’ and turn the old kitchen in to a green room for the Rural Roots Theatre Group,” Constance Bay and Buckham’s Bay Community Association (CBBCA) past president Angela Bernhardt told West Carleton Online at the centre on Thursday, Aug. 2. “We figured we’d need around $60,000 to $80,000.”
The CBBCA got to work on fundraising. In April 2017, Coun. Eli El-Chantiry used his birthday party as a fundraising event, and more than $20,000 was raised.
“We had probably raised around $60,000 at that point,” Bernhardt said. “Then the flood happened (the historic Ottawa River flood which damaged more than 500 homes in West Carleton). We had no kitchen. We had a stove and some counter space. We weren’t equipped to serve as an emergency base.”
Despite that, that is exactly what the NorthWind Centre became.
Between the centre and the West Carleton Royal Canadian Legion, volunteers fed 1,000s of people over a couple of weeks. They helped 350 homes get back on their feet after the devastating and destructive flood.
“We were working on our kitchen design while we were helping flood victims,” Bernhardt said.
While the flood was the biggest hurdle the CBBCA faced, it wasn’t the only one.
“Even though the association was funding the kitchen, we are in a city building and had to follow the City of Ottawa procurement process,” Bernhardt said.
When the project made it to the tender process, the bids came in double what the CBBCA was expecting.
“We couldn’t let the kitchen go, though,” Bernhardt said of the setback.
CBBCA President Len Russell met with Coun. El-Chantiry and city officials to see what could be done.
“It was determined the best result was to use part of the money we raised to help flood victims,” Bernhardt said. “The project became a city major capital project and they would fund 75 per cent of the cost. We would use our leftover money towards the kitchen. That took the fundraising pressure off of us and it meant we don’t have to do Phase I (the warming kitchen), we can go straight to building the full kitchen.”
The full kitchen will be commercial standard with full exhaust and facilities.
They also saved a bit of money being able to use the original designs the CBBCA already had made.
Although Bernhardt has an idea of what the full cost of the kitchen will be, she is unable to share that information as the CBBCA does not want to influence the tendering process, which is expected to unfold this month. The group also hopes to work through the permit process throughout August as well. It hopes to award the tender by October and have construction start soon after that.
“It was due to the partnership with the city we are where we are,” Bernhardt said. “The flood brought to attention the need for a full kitchen – it was a real eye opener. It forced us to re-order our priorities.”
She said this good news couldn’t have come at a better time for the community.
“If we had to continue to fundraise, we’d have a few more years to go and people around here are fundraised out,” Bernhardt said.
The kitchen will serve to assist in emergencies like the flood but will also be available for use for hall rentals. It will work well for teaching cooking and nutrition classes and will have a bar attached for licensed events at the NorthWind Centre.
“It’s extremely rewarding and it’s a relief,” Bernhardt said of the knowledge the CBBCA’s dream of a new kitchen will soon be reality.
“This is a very exciting milestone that was five years in the making,” Russell added.
“The partnership with the CBBCA and the city will ensure we have the best-in-class kitchen possible,” Berhardt said. “It’ll be cost effective, clean and safe. Everything will have a place. We want to have as much flexibility built in as possible.”