Botwood to get a new structure in town

Brandon Anstey
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Culture of Outports help preserve heritage through architecture

With developments on the horizon, Botwood is about to get a new addition to the community.

The old airbase is a centre for cultural history in the town and a group of architecture students from Ryerson University in Ontario have been building a new shelter to be placed where a weather station once stood.  The new shelter is an effort of the Culture of Outports program that works with ERA Architects; an Ontario based company, and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, to bring new life to areas in outport towns across the province.

“Essentially were building a centre that is sort of an interpretation of what the weather station initially looked like,” said Alana Young, project manager. “It’s just two square boxes with a single sloped roof. That’s essentially what we have.”

The structure is to be placed in a convenient location that will allow visitors to have a wide view of the area.

“We have, kind of, cut views through it that view out to a couple of crash sites that happened out here on the bay and then when you’re in the shelter and you turn around, you view back to the airbase and the plane. We’re trying to make that connection with a series of visuals points.”

The group was initially worried about bad weather interfering with the build when they arrived just over a week ago, and that’s when the town stepped up and provided a space for indoor construction. The structure was put together over the course of four or five days in a bay of the local fire hall to be assembled at the old weather station site. Having the shelter a stone throw from Killick Island is convenient because locals use the road as a walking trail, said Ms. Young.

“So, if you’re walking your dog and it’s cold out you can go in the shelter, and if you’re out here in the summer you can stop to take in the view.”

There’s been no shortage of local support with help from local businesses, organizations and residents.

“Everyone has been really supportive, especially the firemen,” said Ms. Young. “It’s a true community build.”

The Botwood Heritage Society has been heavily involved with project and plans to add its own touch to the site.

“It’s an opportunity to learn a little more about the place and the heritage society is hoping to put out a plaque with some information about the crash site and area, “ said Ms. Young who works with ERA Architects.

The new site will be a welcomed addition to the town, said Jeffery Dean, mayor of Botwood.

“We’re very pleased that group took an interest in coming to Botwood and doing their thing for us,” said Mayor Dean. “Hopefully, it will benefit the town by generating more interest on part of the locals and serve as a shelter for walkers and tourists.”

The Culture of Outports program, a non-profit organization, has completed three other projects in communities across the province including Brigus, Burlington and Trinity Bay North. The projects, said Mayor Dean, left no doubt about the kind of work that would be done in Botwood.

“The quality is second to none and I must say I was certainly impressed with what they had done in other communities. I’m sure what I’m going to see in the next couple of days is going to be comparable to that and the quality will be second to none,” he said.

Having the group come in was only a plus for the town, said Mayor Dean.

“Again, we’re very pleased with it and anything that comes into town like that can only help and not hinder our efforts to spur on and stimulate some activity in the town.”

The local response and interest has been pouring in, said Ms. Young.

“I’d say it’s been 110 per cent.”

Kate Gonashvili is one of the six architecture students from Ryerson University. The experience for her has been nothing but pleasant.

“It’s extremely friendly,” she said. “Everyone has been really nice.”

The group wrapped up construction and headed back to Ontario over the weekend, but their impact will last for years to come, said Mayor Dean.

“I’m really pleased that they made an effort to come out and visit with us, do some work for us, and I’m sure they’ll leave a long lasting legacy.”

Organizations: Ryerson University, ERA Architects, Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador Botwood Heritage Society

Geographic location: Botwood, Ontario, Killick Island Burlington Trinity Bay North

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