Repair Café brings household help to Saanich

Residents can get their broken appliances and other goods repaired Saturday at Saanich Commonwealth Place

Repair Cafe organizers Shellie Macdonald

The old refrain “they don’t make things like they used to” is the unofficial motto, and one of several reasons driving the new Saanich Repair Café.

If the saying applies to anything in 2015, it’s electrical appliances, a common subject at repair cafés.

The first Saanich Repair Café is Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Saanich Commonwealth Place. All comers are welcome to bring that favourite but dying toaster, said Marsha Henderson, one of the organizers.

“Bring in what you’ve got, it’s worth a shot,” Henderson said. “We need repairers and people that have stuff that needs a repair.”

Victoria has held three events and it’s taking off, said another co-organizer, Michele Murphy, who added there are 800 repair cafés operating around the world.

The idea is simple. The organizers book a space and invite about a dozen able repairers with tools, materials and maybe some replacement parts. From there the community is invited to bring their “broken stuff” and a desire to learn how to fix it – or have it fixed for them.

Repairing the “broken” stuff and thereby diverting it from landfill and recycling is a bonus but the idea goes beyond that and is meant to build community connections, Henderson said.

“It puts neighbours in touch with each other and creates a space for them to share knowledge, experience, skills and company. Many people discover that there’s a lot of know-how and practical skills to be found right in your own neighbourhood,” Henderson said.

It’s all free, and it is not meant to take business away from small businesses here in town.

“You’re much more likely to work for an hour on a [stubborn object], and with more patience, if you’re chatting in a friendly environment,” said co-organizer Emmet McCusker.

It could take holding the repair café a few times but he believes it will become well attended.

The café also welcomes guitars and other instruments in need of some love, as well as bicycles and computers.

“In many cases, such as computers or microwaves, it’s work that can be done within reason, we’re not sure about a microwave,” he said.

McCusker is from Colwood while the rest of the team, Henderson, Murphy and Shellie MacDonald, are from Saanich.

“Generally what we’ve seen at Victoria’s event is kitchen appliances, wooden chairs, bikes, toys, lamps, maybe a clock or two,” McCusker  added. “We’re open to trying to repair anything. We’ve repaired a Swarovski crystal necklace and a lot of electrical appliances, such as old hand blenders.”

Among the repairers is MacDonald, who has gained invaluable skills as the owner and operator of Red Damsel farm on West Saanich Road.

“You can’t wait to fix something on a farm, you have to get the job done,” she said. “The feeling that you get when you share a skill, gain a new one, and help a neighbour is wonderful. This is about so much more than the stuff.”

It’s also about retaining skills that our community is in danger of losing, and about taking care of each other, she added.

 

The Saanich Repair Café is in the Douglas Fir Room of Saanich Commonwealth Place on Saturday (Oct. 17) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Email SaanichRepairCafe@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/RepairCafeSaanich for more information.