Renovations have begun at the Fernie Arts Station to add gender neutral, accessible bathrooms as well as an upgraded pottery studio.
“We’re closing for the public on Friday (April 1), so that they can get started here in the next week or so,” said Louise Ferguson, executive director of the Fernie and District Arts Council.
The Arts Station building will be closed until May, when it should see a partial re-opening, according to Ferguson. The project should take around two months.
The old bathrooms are common-space men and women bathrooms and an accessible bathroom that is not up to “modern day accessibility standards,” Ferguson said.
The renovations will see them completely gutted and turned into universal washrooms.
The new setup will be five gender-neutral individual bathrooms, with one of them being accessible for people with disabilities.
“It will be much, much improved,” Ferguson said.
They will also be upgrading their pottery studio, which sits in the building basement. There will be upgraded lights that will mimic the daylight, fixes and a re-painting of the ceiling from the current bright orange to white, with the rest of the studio being painted with ‘natural colours’ inspired by pottery ceramics and clay.
She said they’re going for a “new, much more pleasant vibe down there.”
“And then we’re just re-laying out the studio — it’s a little awkward the way it’s set up right now — so that we can have a better flow, and have more people in the space.”
The renovations, which have been in-process since early 2020 when they applied for grants, will cost around $100,000, three-quarters of which is being funded by a BC Arts Council grant. Another grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, funding from the Fernie Arts Council and from the City of Fernie will cover the rest of the costs.
Ferguson said they had a couple of interim spaces lined up for some programming to take place during the renovation period, such as the Knox United Church.
“We hope to be back in the building partially in May, at some point.”