A new resource was added to Hamilton’s tool belt with the opening of the Hamilton Tool Library on Jan. 2. Founder Halden Sproule hopes the not-for-profit initiative will benefit the community, and explained how his inspiration for the project grew from seeing old homes in the city that have fallen into disrepair.

“I really wanted to do something that would benefit the community and make Hamilton a more vibrant and prosperous place,” he said.

The library offers a variety of memberships depending on the types of tools used, including table saws, gardening supplies, and even specialized kitchen appliances. Most memberships cost around $50 per year, with a 20 percent discount and special rates for McMaster students.

Sproule explained that the cost is not meant to turn a profit, but rather to cover the costs associated with running the library. For every membership purchased, the library donates one to partner organizations, including the YWCA, to give to those who cannot afford the fee.

Despite having only been in operation for a week, the library already boasts over 130 members.

“We have doctors and lawyers and police officers and students. Our local MP David Christopherson is a member,” said Sproule. He also cited Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger as a supporter of the initiative.

Safety is a key factor that concerns Sproule. He stressed that people must be honest about their experience with tools.

“If they don’t know how to use something they need to ask because we don’t want to hound people. They just need to be up-front with us,” he said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of volunteers; a ton of retired cabinet-makers and pipe-fitters and electricians who are going to hang out and pass on knowledge and answer questions.”

As a non-profit organization, the library relies on donations to add to its already impressive collection of tools. Sproule spoke of a man with terminal cancer who donated much of his collection of professional-grade equipment when he could no longer use it. Despite having over 8,000 tools and appliances, Sproule was adamant that expanding the selection of tools is one of his major plans for the coming year.

Expanding their collection is not the only goal Sproule has set for the library’s first year in operation.

“We really want to help support young entrepreneurs, not just in the sense of new start-ups, but people who want to go into skilled trades jobs,” he explained. One such method of support is lending equipment to newly employed trades workers until they can afford their own supplies.

The library is not shying away from its first Winterfest either. In conjunction with StopGap, a Toronto organization that works to increase accessibility by building and selling inexpensive ramps to local businesses, volunteers at the Hamilton Tool Library will build and paint 250 ramps that will be sold to schools, homes, and businesses to improve accessibility in Hamilton. The project runs from Feb. 14-16.

Sproule said that people have spoken with him about their excitement that there is a venue for them to work on their projects and learn how to use complicated tools affordably.

“It’s really amazing what you can do when you have the right tools in your hands.”

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