Phase 1 of new look

Friendship Centre receives much-needed rejuvenation

Tillicum Friendship Centre executive director Sandy Brunton proudly shows off the renovated kitchen and hall.

The Tillicum Society Friendship Centre has just completed a $300,000 rejuvenation of the facility on North Fraser Drive.

Plans have been in the works for several years and thanks to the financial assistance as well as planning and consulting help, Phase 1 of their long-range project was finished.

Community Futures helped with planning and proposal development as did Nate Bello and Jim Savage along with support from political leaders such as Mary Sjostrom. Financial contributions included Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition, Northern Development – Intiative Trust, BC Creative Spaces program with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Enabling Accessibility funding from the federal government.

After a building assessment which determined the Friendship Centre was structurally sound, work began on establishing the priorities. This was the first substantial renovation on the building since it’s construction in 1974.

Executive director Sandy Brunton said the hall and the kitchen were top of the list.

“We wanted to create a safe, welcoming and updated space for users,” he said.

Second on the consideration list was increasing the energy efficiency of the building which would save money on their monthly expenses. Third was handicapped accessibility and finally cosmetic upgrades to the front of the building.

Windows and exterior doors, plus improving the insulation in the building also helped increase the security. Flooring was also upgraded.

The hall has a new stage with upgraded electronic accessibility and new wood wall coverings, providing a lighter, warmer atmosphere as well as the improved lighting. The kitchen saw the most upgrades, with new cabinets, counters, commercial-grade appliances including a unique dual purpose refrigerator which can convert from a fridge to freezer depending on demand.

“Once we finished the interior, we knew we needed to address the entrance way outside which pushed us a little over budget but well worth it,” he said.

The work was completed by Icon Homes and Brunton was very pleased with the quality of the work.

He went on to say in their original design plans they’d hoped to include the construction of a large circular gathering place on adjacent land the society owns which would have also enable them to convert the current hall to office space.

“We’re bursting at the seems,” he said.

“But that construction will be under the guidance of a new executive director.”

Brunton is retiring at the end of June.

“We received good value for money spent,” he said.

“We wanted a place aboriginal people would be proud of and a welcoming space for the community at large. And we’ve accomplish that.”

He also added the newly-renovated hall is available for public rentals with a 188-person capacity, an updated kitchen and stage facilities.