December 25, 2013

Smaller Re-Use Centre pitched for office area

As published in The Erin Advocate

The idea of a store for donated re-usable goods at the old Hydro building on Shamrock Road has been pitched again to Town Council, but this time requesting to use only the office space that is currently unrented.

“It’s not going to cost the Town any money, and on top of that we’re going to give money back to the community,” said Nyola Holliday, on behalf of a citizen committee that has been looking for a way to set up a Re-Use Centre.

They are asking that since the Town has not been successful in renting out that space (previously used by ARC Industries), that they be allowed to use it rent-free for nine months to see if the volunteer-based venture will work.

The previous proposal for a Re-Use Centre there involved use of the whole building, including large bay areas used by the Water Department. The new proposal would not require the water operations to move, and store inventory would be limited to items small enough to fit through a regular door.

“We want to run this on a shoestring,” said Holliday. She said it will be a valuable service for Town residents, but very inexpensive compared to various Town recreation and culture investments.

In addition to the rent, she also asked that the Town cover their liability insurance. They are hoping to get approval early in 2014. Councillor Jose Wintersinger asked them to come back with a more detailed business plan, and an indication of how many volunteers are willing to be involved.

Both the County (which has responsibility for waste) and the Town had previously offered approval in principle.

Patrick Suessmuth, who started the Erin Freecycle website, spoke in favour of the initiative. Freecycle is a network of 5,119 groups enabling goods to be offered and taken for free, through They have 6.7 million members worldwide, and almost 700 locally.

“It shows a tremendous amount of interest in recycling,” he said.

The new store would take donations, but then raise money by selling the items, similar to the much larger Wastewise operation in Georgetown. Wellington County offers a different type of Re-use Centre at its Belwood Waste Transfer Station, where people pay a small fee to drop off goods, but they can be taken for free.

The Erin plan is to use sales revenues to start paying rent after nine months, but also to allow local non-profit groups to apply for grants to support their work. East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) has been involved in helping with this project, but the grants would be available to any group.

The store would not sell clothing or books, to avoid competing directly with stores operated by EWCS.