I remember being somewhat astonished when I first saw the bright primary colours going up on the drab, old school district building across from where I work.
Initially, I thought, “Wow, that really stands out,” though not entirely certain if it was in a good way.
And then came the giant metal monarch butterflies.
Over a short period of time, however, I would begin to see the Monarch Building differently.
I think that change began to sink in on my drives to work. After dropping my son off at school, I tend to head into town via the highway. The route offers motorists one of the finer vistas of Salmon Arm and its downtown, where it’s very easy to spot the Monarch Building. Amongst the greys and other earthy tones, it stands out like a beacon.
And maybe that’s not a bad way to think of it.
The building is now home to the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre and the Shuswap Makerspace, two local, community-driven endeavours pulled together, as I understand, by the folks at the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society. They had a lot of supporters, including the City of Salmon Arm, local businesses, School District #83, Okanagan College and many others who wanted, in the words of Innovation Centre project chair Chad Shipmaker, a “place to explore technology, a place to learn and to share ideas or to teach.”
With last week’s official opening of the Makerspace, located on the bottom floor of the centre, the building now offers a place to do business, conduct meetings, learn about different trades and technologies, share knowledge and experience, and bond with others who might share interests. It’s an office space for those without an office and a workshop for those, well, without a workshop.
How is the Innovation Centre a beacon? While we may be a rural community, the centre shows we can be technologically relevant, that we can offer the benefits of the borderless digital age that businesses, innovators and Internet influencers might crave, in a city where it takes roughly 10 minutes or less to drop your kid off at school and get to work.
For that alone, I’m grateful to have more colour in our downtown.