10C Shared Space & Chalmers Community Services Centre: 10C Shared Space

Guelph’s 10C Shared Space/Chalmers Community Services Centre; A dynamic and replicable engine room for Guelph’s social change sector

With its engaged, progressive community and lively, historic downtown, it’s easy to think that a project aligning10C Shared Space/Chalmers Community Services Centre could only happen in city like Guelph. But what the team behind 10C has managed to do in Guelph absolutely can— and should—be done in towns and cities across Canada.

10C is a not-for-profit social enterprise offering a platform for those working across sectors and engaging in collaborative work to improve their local community. This is a place to bring your good ideas, and do good work. Where once there was an underutilized physical asset thats upper floors functioned as little more than unused storage space, the 10C team has created a downtown coworking and event meeting space where professionals, researchers and students can meet, share ideas and work for change.

Achieving this required partners, collaborators, donors and support from the community. The team raised $600K in grants and over $2M in local social financing through community bonds from 140 investors. 10C’s goal is long-term ownership of the building, bringing more collision space into the public realm with the purpose of deeper collaborations and measurable community impacts across sectors. Financing secured from Vancity Community Investment Bank to the tune of $1.9M is helping them achieve this goal.

Work on the project began in January 2016. Project partners gathered, including Chalmers Community Services Centre—a key partner in the project who supplied upfront capital and long-term main floor tenancy. The City of Guelph provided $125,000 towards 3rd and 4th-floor building costs under their Downtown Activation Grant, and the University of Guelph funded $50,000 towards accessibility features. The University of Guelph continues to be a major partner, with a service contract for use of the Community Classroom and conducts research through the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute. The Guelph Arts Council is heavily involved—with long-term co-tenancy and is a partner for arts programming in the main floor gallery and lounge. In addition, the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition has long-term co-tenancy and is a partner for community engagement.

Foundational work, property negotiation followed and environmental assessments came after. With the property purchase and the funding applications finalized, construction began. By anticipating emerging community needs and facilitating for extensive community and partner engagement, the 10C team was able to juggle diverse needs, providing applicable programming for members and the community with an innovative building design.

Between 2017 and 2018, 10C redeveloped a 150-year-old location in Guelph’s downtown core into a thriving community hub with gender-neutral and barrier-free access throughout. Through careful planning, the team managed to expand their physical space by 5 times to encompass the 15,000 sq.ft site. This helped facilitate a huge increase in community engagement to over 20,000 event participants per year and triple 10C’s membership to over 200 members. Increasing the occupant density from 2 to 50 people, the redeveloped building is helping connect changemakers in the engine room for Guelph’s social change sector. 

Given the need to balance the needs of community members with the time and resources needed to finish all building refurbishments, it’s astounding that by end of January 2018, all exterior renovations have been completed and they are ready for interior improvements. In 2019, 10C is focused on stabilizing membership and space uses while building program and educational offerings, including impact measurement, food and urban agriculture, and is now playing a leadership role in Guelph and Wellington’s Smart Cities Circular Food Economy project.

The immeasurable benefits of 10C Shared Space / Chalmers Community Services Centre include a deepening of community relationships, creating new opportunities, and imaginative new ideas and problem-solving that could not occur otherwise. People meet, eat, create, brainstorm and get sh*t done at 10C. The team hopes that by being leading-edge demonstrators for how a small organization can drive large scale collaboration to achieve a complicated and risky real-estate development with the support of over 135 social finance investors, they can inspire other communities to do the same. So what are you waiting for?