Community Kitchen officially opened

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, September 27 2016

The Gabriola Commons has reached the end of a long road, finally being able to say that the construction - both physical and legal - of the Commons Community Kitchen, is complete.

A toast to the Commons Community Kitchen: (L-R) George Szanto, Laurie Bienert (Development Officer, Nanaimo Foundation) and Howard Houle, Regional Director for Gabriola with the Regional District of Nanaimo. Derek Kilbourn photo.


George Szanto, long the point person in seeking out ways to fund the kitchen project, was the emcee for the grand opening of the Kitchen this past Saturday afternoon.

“Many members of the Commons have worked many, many hour to bring this about, and our grateful thanks goes out to them.”

Szanto said the Nanaimo Foundation was a key funder for the project, as they, “had faith in the Commons from the very beginning, in 2011 awarding the Commons a grant to be used for the removal of the old siding from the cheese factory....the insulation of new plumbing, the electricity, and the insulation.”

The Foundation again stepped in last year - as the kitchen was thought to be ready for opening - and Island Health made it clear that new septic tanks and a septic field would be needed.

Szanto said the Commons recognizes, deeply, that neither of the projects funded through the Foundation are now visible to the public - but are certainly going to be some of the most valuable assets to the long-term function of the facility.

A grant from the Vancouver Foundation allowed the Commons to purchase much of the equipment now seen in the kitchen - and used as the Commons played host to the Agi Association’s Farm to Table Feast a few weekends prior.

Szanto said the final ‘big’ grant came from the Western Economic Diversification Canada/Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.

“We give heavy-duty thanks to them as well, and to our representative to the Regional District of Nanaimo, Howard Houle, who put the Commons in touch with the fund.

“Many thanks to the Village Food Market, Gary McCollum and Jane Krul, for including the Commons Kitchen as a participant in their Community Card project.”

The Commons also received several large anonymous donations from a number of individuals, giving the Commons the money to match what came through the Fund.