Ottawa Tool Library finds new home in former artists' hub

Bettina headshot
Bettina Vollmerhausen is the co-founder of the Ottawa Tool Library. File photo
Editor's Note

This story has been updated with details on the Square Lemon Artistic Association's new home.

After being left out in the cold following its eviction from a central Ottawa makerspace late last year, the Ottawa Tool Library has a new home.

The non-profit organization says it will officially reopen at its new location at 877-A Boyd Ave. ​– just west of the intersection of Carling Avenue and the Queensway ​– on April 1.

Co-founder and executive director Bettina Vollmerhausen said the former tenants of the 2,400-square-foot space, the Square Lemon Artistic Association, asked her in January if the tool library would be interested in taking over its lease.

“It’s so hard to find light industrial space in the Ottawa core,” said Vollmerhausen, whose organization was told to vacate its previous location at Makerspace North in the City Centre industrial complex in December. “It’s worked out fantastic.”

The facility has an inventory of more than 2,500 tools from axes to wire cutters, which are loaned out a week at a time to members who pay monthly or yearly fees. It also hosts workshops and demo nights on topics such as plumbing and drywall repair.

Subtenants left scrambling

The tool library was one of more than two dozen subtenants at Makerspace North that were left scrambling to find new homes after the 19,000-square-foot community hub was evicted from the City Centre complex.

According to the notice to vacate, Makerspace North was in “significant rental arrears” at the property it had occupied for six years. 

Vollmerhausen said the tool library, which had occupied about 1,300 square feet in the facility for five years, had always paid its rent on time, adding she was shocked when she found out the organization would have to move. 

But she said she’s thrilled with the tool library’s new home just south of the Carling Avenue Canadian Tire store, noting the space is significantly larger than the old location, has plenty of parking and is close to a number of bus stops.

“We’ve had a great outpouring (of interest) already,” she said. “It’s such a cool industrial space.”

Meanwhile, Square Lemon says it's close to finalizing a deal for a new space on Stevenage Drive in the city's south end. The non-profit makerspace hopes to be settled into its new digs by mid-summer.

“We loved being at Boyd Avenue, but when the news about OTL came out, we knew they could use the space more effectively than we could during the pandemic," Square Lemon director Helen Brady said in an email to OBJ, adding the group's online store remains in operation.