No doubt there are unused tools cluttering up basements, junk draws and storage lockers across the city, but two east-end residents want to put them to use in Parkdale at Toronto’s first Tool Library.
“Our goal is to obviously give people access to the tools, but also to connect to our larger goal, which is more of a mentality shift,” said Ryan Dyment, who, along with Lawrence Alvarez, are the executive director and president, respectively, of the Institute for a Resource-Based Economy (IRBE).
This not-for-profit aims to promote a new economic system that connects the environment and the economy to achieve a sustainable society.
“A ‘resource-based economy’ is really our long-term objective and where we want society to go to, it is a sustainable economy that instead of using money or politics to make decisions, we would use the scientific method and physical resources,” Dyment said.
“We have to have the understanding that we have enough physical resources to satisfy everyone’s needs on the planet,” Dyment said. “We have enough food, we have enough shelter, we have enough resources, it is just that we can’t own everything.”
The Toronto Tool Library is IRBE’s first large project, and a first for Toronto.
The men said they believe people are getting used to shared resource projects such as auto sharing and BIXI bikes, and a tool library fits that model.
“I think people are hungry for this type of thing,” Alvarez said. “It is an idea whose time has come. It makes sense that one might not necessarily need to own these things if they don’t need to use them very often,”
As a member of the tool library, people can sign out power tools, hand tools, shop vacuums and even a generator for both home and community initiatives.
“We know there are tons of tools sitting around idle in people’s basements. It is just a matter of people accessing them,” Dyment said.
An annual membership will be offered at a sliding scale according to income. With that membership, people can sign out tools of their choice for a specified loan period, just like a traditional library. Nominal late fees will apply to overdue items.
The tool library will be housed in a space in the basement of the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) at 1499 Queen St. W. Renovations are currently underway to build shelves to house the tools.
The library will be run by volunteers and is open to anyone.
The benefit of a tool library is that it removes barriers to equipment and helps facilitate neighbourhood beautification, increases job skills and tool proficiency and saves money through sustainable resource sharing.
The target membership is low-income people, new immigrants, community groups, non-profits and charities who would otherwise be unable to access these tools, but membership is open to anyone.
IRBE is looking for donations of tools and Alvarez explained it is a donation, not only to the tool library, but also to the community, because everyone will have access.
“They can also come and take out the tool they donated so they still have access to it,” Alvarez said.
IRBE is in the midst of a fundraising campaign and it is also looking for volunteers to help run the library and the ongoing renovations.
IRBE has had some sponsors come on board, including the Salvation Army Thrift Store at Queen Street West and Jameson Avenue, which is collecting used tools, a generator from Canadian Tire and tools from the Mibro Group.
The pair, who are house-mates in the east end near Pape and Danforth, hope to start a similar Tool Library in the Beach and are looking for a physical space there.
The men expect Tool Library at PARC to open in mid- to late March.
For details, visit www.irbe.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 647-965-5604.