food hub & Community workspace in New Denver, BC, Canada

New Fireweed Hub taking shape on New Denver’s main street

This article was published in the Valley Voice March 23, 2023.

Anyone who frequents the downtown core of New Denver will have noticed the extensive construction and renovation project visible from the rear of the Merkley Building, former home of Rory’s on Main and the Village Hearth restaurants. The main floor of the building is fast being readied for its new life as a innovative community space. The upcoming Fireweed Hub will provide for office style work as well as containing a large commercial kitchen suitable for food production and food service. A flexible open space at the front of the building will adapt to a variety of uses, whether for workshops, meetings, or pop-up restaurant and café functions. 

The Fireweed Hub is a project of the Silverton Cowork Society (SCS). Fuelled primarily by a provincial Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program grant, the Society is creating the space to promote food security, encourage a diverse and robust rural economy, and enhance community vitality and resilience. While the project was conceived early in the pandemic, the past three years have made local needs even more acute.

“We see increasing numbers of people, whether they’re in the area temporarily or long-term, working remotely, and a coworking space serves that demographic really well” commented Miranda Hughes, who manages the Fireweed Hub’s temporary home in its office suite across the street. “Not every remote worker wants to spend every day at home, and their home office may not be ideal for some of their work needs. Using a co-work space from time to time can make remote work more palatable and balanced.”

The recent closures of two of New Denver’s cafés have created even more of a need for the food service functions of the Fireweed Hub. The space will allow aspiring food producers, chefs and bakers to rent a certified commercial kitchen with seating areas available both inside and outside. Sharing the space and its equipment means that the costs can be borne by many, which will be very helpful for small operations, startups and part-time endeavours. “We’ve held several information sharing meetings with groups of prospective local users of our kitchen” explained Morgen Bardati, co-president of the SCS and member of the Food Hub Committee. “From their enthusiasm and the collaborative ideas growing out of these discussions we are excited at the possibilities for a vibrant community hub in New Denver.”

The design and renovation of the Fireweed Hub space is tapping into a lot of local talent as it takes shape. “We are very fortunate to have many talented and skilled people in our community who are helping us bring this project forward” said SCS co-president Paula Shandro. “With the exception of engineering services, all consultants and contractors have been hired locally. It has been a pleasure to work with them as they bring both their expertise and understanding of our community to the table.”

A poster in the front window of the Main Street building gives a glimpse of the transformation taking place within. The Fireweed Hub looks forward to welcoming the community into the space this summer with a range of events and plenty of rental use.