Repair Cafe now running all year round in Science Centre

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Andrea Nelson learned how to fix an engine for a fireplace fan at the Repair Cafe in the Prince Albert Science Centre on Saturday.

The Prince Albert Science Centre, located in the Gateway Mall, finds other ways to use their space once a month.

Each month the Science Centre hosts the Repair Cafe on the first Saturday of the month.

Repair Cafe organizer Les Dickson said they were doing steady business on Saturday. He said the monthly events have proven even more popular than they were before the pandemic.

“Somebody else started the repair cafe about a year and a half before COVID,” Dickson said. “We were doing them monthly then, except we would shut down in the summer because we didn’t have very many volunteers.

However, lack of volunteers is no longer a problem. Dickson said they’ve added enough volunteers to host repair Cafes every month all year long.

“We’ve got some of our volunteers going in the winter too and so and some have cabins, but it’s been enough to go every month,” he said.

Dickson explained that the bring different skill sets, but all want to help people learn how to repair different items and keep them from clogging the landfill.

He said that people want seem to want to learn how to repair items, and volunteers are happy to show them.

“(It’s) mostly retired people, but we’ve got a couple of younger people that come occasionally when they can,” Dickson said.

“Our goal is to keep stuff out of the dump, but also hopefully teach some skills so people can understand how they can repair some of the things themselves.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Grant MacTavish assisted Andrea Nelson in fixing an engine for a fireplace at the Repair Cafe in the Prince Albert Science Centre on Saturday.

“We’re having pretty good success rate of items that are getting fixed (but) there’s some that we just aren’t able to fix.”

He said that they have up to 10 volunteers with four tables and people running registration and making coffee, because it is a Cafe.

Dickson said that they approached the Science Centre to strike up the partnership. The Repair Cafe used to run in what was then the Margo Fournier Centre.

“We wanted to start up again after COVID and I happen to know somebody who was on the board from the Science Centre,” he explained. “They said they would love to have us here because it’s really an applied science. (It’s) how to troubleshoot use of a volt meter and check a circuit and how to use different things.”

Dickson said that they will return on Jan. 6, 2024. He explained that the only exception is a long weekend where they move dates

“Often on a long weekend we can’t find people and other people are not necessarily bringing their stuff in,” Dickson said.

Dickson said the Repair Cafe is an international organization. It started off in Europe where one of the goals was to lobby for Right to Repair legislation. Dickson said that’s a big goal for the Prince Albert Repair Café too.

“We get things coming in that have really strange fasteners, your standard screwdrivers won’t take it apart. Some of them are sealed shut, so the right to repair legislation movement is to try to get manufacturers to make things easier to repair,” Dickson explained.

Not only will the Right to Repair make it easier on users, Dickson argued, it will also help keep more items out of the Prince Albert landfill.

“A lot of manufacturers would rather see you buy something new than see you repair it, but this our only planet that we can work on so we’ve got to take care of it,” he said.