The Creation Station on Railway Avenue in Smithers hosts the Smithers Public Library’s (SPL) repair café where where members of the community can bring in broken items to be repaired to their former working glory. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Repair café gives new life to old household gadgets

The last scheduled café is Oct. 30.

If you’ve been holding onto all those broken blenders and short-circuited fans in hope of some mechanical messiah, you’re in luck.

For the first time ever, the Smithers Public Library (SPL) has been putting on a repair café . The event is based on a model first developed in the Netherlands by environmentalist Martine Postma.

The concept refers to a number of people — usually with a variety of skillsets ranging from mechanical to textiles — coming together in one area where members of the community can bring in broken items to (hopefully) be repaired to their former working glory.

“I think every one of us in some way has felt some frustration when you go to pitch that toaster or that something that even with your limited skill or knowledge, you know that it could probably be fixed by somebody but you don’t know what else to do with it,” said SPL assistant Erin Hart, who spearheaded the program.

Hart said a common complaint she hears is people have broken stuff but nowhere to go to get their items fixed.

It’s an issue, she says, in a throwaway society where things are no longer being built to last.

“There are people who do have those skills, they may not be making their livelihood doing that, but this opportunity connects people,” said Hart.

At their Sept. 25 meeting, two separate rooms housed a number of different stations filled with everything from clothing, to a Christmas decoration (which Hart said has been in the SPL’s possession for quite some time now) to a number of electronic devices, such as what appears to be an old VCR or movie player of some kind.

Volunteers work busily on a number of projects and the building is filled with a flurry of sights and sounds of gadgets, trinkets and other household essentials being brought back to life.

Hart said the café is a program that brings together a number of different individuals with one common goal.

While some come because they like to fix things, others come because they think it’s important to do their environmental due diligence in making sure they try to repair or find a second use for an item (such as the case for this reporter, whose electric mixer’s engine and electrical components were fully salvageable for reuse despite the mixer itself not being repairable).

“On an individual level it’s very empowering for people.

“To be able to … [repair] something of their own and [put] it back into use is highly satisfying, people really enjoy that.”

The repair café runs out of the Creation Station, located at 3866 Railway Ave from 6-9 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month from May to October.

The last scheduled café is Oct. 30.

While no definitive plans have been made, the SPL is looking at ways to continue the event in the future.

“There’s a lot of heart and desire in the community and [the] people who have been participating have just been such solid volunteers.

“People coming are just really grateful for the service that it provides, and also the whole concept of it as being something different in our throwaway world.”

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