Five things you need to know about the renovation

In Uncategorized by couchiching

Thanks to support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the late Bill Grant, the office renovation plan is becoming a reality!

  1. There will be no funds requested from our members and supporters.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation and a bequest from Bill Grant have made it possible for The Couchiching Conservancy to retrofit our existing building to make it fully accessible, and to make it self-sufficient. We will eliminate our use of fossil fuels by replacing an oil furnace with a geothermal system and installing solar panels on the roof sufficient to cover our electricity use and perhaps generate additional electricity for the grid. This will amount to a small grant annually for years to come to cover significant operating costs.

  1. Grant’s Woods will be closed during the duration of construction.

Beginning May 19, 2015, Grant’s Woods will be closed to the public for reasons of safety. We are directing regular users of the woods to some of our other properties during this period. Because it isn’t clear when we will be able to re-open due to the complexities of construction projects, we have slated a completion date for spring 2016. While this will be disappointing to those who love Grant’s Woods, it will give the forest a much-needed rest from the impact of many visits. Staff will continue to work at the office and those who need to access on business should call ahead to arrange a visit.

  1. We have worked hard to use the footprint of the existing building.

The Grant’s Woods office is well-used and as staff has increased it has become necessary to create new working space. But we’ve worked hard to keep the scale of the place modest. There will be no additions to the original building. New offices will be created in the existing garage, asbestos will be removed, and floors will be leveled so that anyone with mobility issues can use any part of the building. We will also be bringing accessibility features up to current building code standards. One small outbuilding will be added to provide a much-needed workshop and storage. The parking lot will be upgraded with a very small expansion to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles visiting the woods. Everything will be done with an Environment First ethic.

  1. When the project is complete we will have more space for community groups, visiting student groups.

One of the original concepts of Grant’s Woods was to use it as a conservation centre. While that has occurred to some extent, programming and availability for group use has been curtailed by a lack of a general meeting space and issues with our water system. Thanks to a sponsorship from The Water Market, we will be able to provide drinkable water. An expanded board room will provide better meeting space and a place to host student groups for programming indoors.

  1. We have an amazing group of volunteers running the project.

An expert team has been assembled to see this project through to completion. The Renovation Committee is led by Conservancy Past President David Homer, who has worked tirelessly to bring about this improvement. Past President Ken Thomson, Kristi McKechnie of K. McKechnie Architectural Design and general contractor Don Scott of Scott Inc. Design and Build were all involved in the original renovation of the Grant house more than a decade ago and are once again sharing their skills and enthusiasm. Bruce Duncan, a project manager by profession, is coordinating the project on the ground. Staff are represented by Dorthea Hangaard and Mark Bisset. This committee is receiving additional support from Scott Weiler and numerous others. Because we hope to use volunteer labourers throughout the process, this list will continue to grow. Together this group is going to make sure this project is going to be another Conservancy success. Thanks to these incredible volunteers!

Written by Mark Bisset, Executive Director.

This project is supported by

Ontario Trillium Foundation