Re-use-it centre expected to open in November By Chantal Tranchemontagne Whistler’s first re-use-it centre will open later this fall, at the compactor-recycling depot in Function Junction. "The centre will be a place to bring something that is too good to throw away," says Brian Barnett, Whistler's manager of environmental services. The 1,500 square-foot facility will be set up as a thrift store, says Janet McDonald, executive director of the Whistler Community Service society. The organization will be in charge of running the warehouse-style outlet. "I expect that people will donate used items, clothing, household items and smaller pieces of furniture. We will then sell them at bargain basement prices," she says. Originally slated to open in the spring, the project was delayed due to higher than expected construction costs. Two earlier bids on the building were turned down. The municipality managed to lower the price of the building by opting for a prefabricated model. However, the steel frame construction will not allow for expansion of the building. Barnett maintains that additional space will be something to discuss if and when a need is demonstrated. The municipality is currently tendering the project and construction is expected to begin in the fall, with the opening date slated for the end of November. McDonald contends that this project is a good opportunity for the whole community, including those in surrounding areas. "It's win, win, win for everybody," she says. McDonald explains that the community will profit by having a depot where they can drop off unused commodities. As well, the centre will act as a valuable resource for those in need of items such as clothing, household supplies and furniture. Also, by taking in articles that are commonly discarded, the centre will help the municipality reduce landfill mass. A provincial law passed in 1990 requires the community to reduce its volume of material going into the landfill by 50 per capita by the end of this year. Of course, says McDonald, the WCSS also has something to gain. All the revenues from items sold will go to the non-profit organization. The money will be used to create new programs and to support and expand existing ones. Dedicated to providing community health services and educational programs, the WCSS operates the food bank, which assisted close to 100 families this year. The society offered leadership courses that taught close to 400 children assertiveness and bullyproofing skills and the annual fall rummage sale attracted people from as far as D'Arcy and Squamish who were looking for good deals. Based on the amount of items accepted and sold at their rummage sale, McDonald is anticipating comparable numbers of contributions to the centre. "The sheer volume of stuff was unbelievable," she says. McDonald predicts that the public will continue their generosity when the centre opens and expects that the potential turnover of items will help them generate money. Established in 1987, the WCSS expects the re-use-it centre will diminish its reliance on government grants, including a municipal grant-in-aid. In turn, that should allow more funds to be allocated to other associations in need. Other organizations will also have a chance to better their financial status by running the re-use-it centre on certain weekends. "After we get our feet on the ground, we would like to open it up to the other non-profit groups," says McDonald, stressing that generating revenue is a constant challenge for non-profit organizations.