Preparations are underway for the raising of Pemberton’s Downtown Community Barn on May 22 and 23, with volunteers hard at work to make sure the project gets off the ground on schedule.
Over 50 members of the Timber Framers Guild (TFG), a non-profit that takes on community projects, and locals have been volunteering to build the Frontier Street barn every day since May 12. The group was in the midst of cutting and laying out the timber frames on Friday (May 16) that will be raised this weekend, while the roof will be added some time in June, said Alicia Spence, lead instructor with TFG.
“The two things we are trying to do are to coordinate building a good frame for the structure and promote community service here,” Spence said from the site on Friday.
The barn has been in the planning stages for over two years, and the building process has been a lot of work, said Randy Churchill, lead TFG project manager.
“It’s always difficult and it’s always a challenge to take on a project of this caliber,” he said. “Our 25 years of experience doing projects like this tells us how to get a job like this done with the group of people we have and the amount of time we have and with the community support system… The Pemberton community has been very supportive and that’s a big asset. It’s a lot of work, it’s tight and it’s tough, but we have a lot of professionals on the staff and it’s going to be fun to get this project done on time.”
Pemberton’s local grocers and restaurants also donated food to the workers while Pembertonians have been putting them up at their homes.
“It’s just been unreal and you don’t see that everyday,” said Coun. Mike Richman of the community’s support. “The way the community has come around to support them has been great. Whether it’s taking the volunteers horseback riding or bringing them out on tour to the local distillery to taste our local vodka, it has been pretty amazing. Next Friday we’ll be hosting a ‘hoedown’ for them as well, with square dancing and local foods. It’s going to be a fun party for everyone.”
TFG volunteers from all around the country and the U.S. have gathered to work on this project. Churchill added that the members of the guild paid their own way to make it here.
“It’s such a great community event and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do this,” said volunteer Scott Lattimer. “To have this many knowledgeable people in one place to help and mentor the less experienced builders is really great.”
The barn will be an open-space structure with exposed post and beam construction. The open-air timber structure will host activities ranging from the weekly Pemberton Valley Farmer’s Market, to traditional barn dances, summer evening movies and other entertainment, cultural festivals and performances.
While the project has been met with plenty of positive support from the community, there have also been some concerns, said Coun. Ted Craddock.
“People are not so much as concerned about the building itself, but things around it like parking,” Craddock said. “When we had the public hearing, we had a really good turn out and most people who did have concerns were talking about the loss of the parking spots, but they are overlooking the 19 spots currently available behind the pharmacy building that aren’t even being used. The intersection (Frontier Street and Birch Road) is another concern for people with the congestion but we are looking into a plan to deal with that as well.”
On Friday (May 23), the community will host a “hoe down” at the Pemberton Community Centre to celebrate the volunteers and the new barn.