From air hockey tables to lawnmowers, Chris Varga sees all kinds of repairable items make their way to the SIRCH Community Services thrift warehouse.

“Most of those could be easily fixed,” Varga said. “Once upon a time, we easily fixed things and we had a repair culture.”

To help bring that culture back and address some of that intake, SIRCH is launching a series of six repair cafés from January to August 2020, the first one set for Jan. 25. The events will invite the public to come with their broken items. Volunteers will be on hand to both fix things and instruct participants on how they can do the fixing themselves.

The organization hired Varga as the new repair café co-ordinator. He said the idea, which has gone worldwide since it began in 2007, will help reduce waste ending up in landfills.

“It’s really become a disposable society. Our landfills are filling up,” Varga said. “To divert that is a benefit, a positive.”

Environment Haliburton! is promoting the new program. President Susan Hay said the group is excited by it.

“We feel that it is an important way to keep useable material out of landfill sites and that it is a great community-building project,” Hay said.

Varga said he has worked as a computer repair person and been a handyman for much of his life. He further said the cafés will support people trying their hands at fixing for the first time.

“When you don’t know how to do something, there’s always doubt and fear,” Varga said. “The worst thing that can happen is it still doesn’t work. You’re going to have a great time being there. It’s going to be a social atmosphere.”

That atmosphere is a key part of the concept, he said.

“You have an opportunity to work together as a common group,” Varga said. “To create bonds within a community. Create a stronger community, people working together on a common goal.”

The program was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Varga said they plan to have three in Haliburton, two in Minden and one in Bancroft. More dates, times and locations are to be announced.

The scope of what the cafes will repair is dependent on how many people will help, Varga said. SIRCH is looking for people who know how to repair all kinds of items, whether it be clothing, books, electronics, furniture or anything else.

The first café takes place at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. The events are free but donations are appreciated.

“We’re hoping that the SIRCH initiative can be a great success,” Varga said. “But we also hope to inspire other people to take up this idea and run with it.”


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