Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild member Pat Collins teaches Ayden Blanchette how to weave on a small loom at the Qualicum Beach Museum. The guild is hoping to host more people at their own space, now that it’s moved to Qualicum Commons from the train station loft. — File

Qualicum Beach Weavers and Spinners find new home

Town facilitating move to commons, looks at uses for train station loft

It’s out of the loft and into the Commons for the Qualicum Beach Weavers and Spinners Guild.

After 25 years of being located in the loft of the Qualicum Beach train station, the guild has moved to Qualicum Commons — the former Qualicum Beach Elementary School — as of Aug. 28.

The guild had been operating in the loft while paying rent of one dollar a year, said vice president Sylvia Dwyer.

“The guild started by (members) going to each other’s houses,” she said, but eventually found a home at the train station, most of which has since become a digital media studio for small businesses.

The loft itself “was just an empty space,” said Dwyer, but the guild worked to make the space useable and made the most of it, with a couple large looms, a reference library and other equipment taking up much of the space.

“We’ve been very happy there,” said Dwyer, though over the last few years, some of the location’s shortcomings have made working there difficult.

“The stairs have come to be an issue. They are very narrow and steep… this has kind of put some of our members off of coming. Especially if you want to go up there with any equipment.”

For the last several years the guild has been looking for a new space with better access, she said, and the town has kept that in mind as well, said Heather Svensen, the town’s corporate administrator.

“So when a space at the Commons became available, we approached (the guild) and have worked with them now over the past month or two months to transition them into that location.”

The Commons space is a big improvement, said Dwyer, offering a much less fractured area, easier access, and a greater ability to host members and visitors.

The Qualicum Commons is owned by School District 69, but the town helped the guild to negotiate a lease, and the town will help the guild to pay rent for the first year.

After that, the guild will have to pay its own way.

“It is a concern, of course,” said Dwyer of the new financial burden, “but I think it will pull us together, motivate us and I think it will be a positive thing, actually. Definitely.”

The guild is already throwing around ideas to raise funds, including holding workshops for adults and/or youth, a fashion show and other ideas, though nothing has been confirmed, said Dwyer.

The guild’s largest annual fundraiser, the Elegant Threads show and sale in November, will be held at the Rotary Club in Qualicum Beach again this year. But in the future, the event will likely take place at the Commons, and perhaps more than once a year, Dwyer said.

“I can’t say enough for the town,” said Dwyer. “I’d really like to thank them for all of their help. They’ve gone over and above.”

“I think it’s going to be a win-win all around,” she added, as the town has some interest in using the vacated loft space.

Svensen said she couldn’t give much information as nothing has been confirmed, but said, “We want to utilize the space to continue to enhance the digital media industry in Qualicum Beach. Right now, it wasn’t in keeping with that, with the weavers and spinners up there.”

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