Keith Starling and Marcy Prunkle of Take to Heart Specialty Woods put together their proposal to takeover the old wildfire base at the end of Westeside Road and turn it into a camp for troubled youth.

Take to Heart looks to expand beyond mill business

Revelstoke specialty mill has eyes set on turning old wildfire base into camp for troubled youth

Take to Heart describes itself as a specialty sawmill, “that provides the highest quality wood products, using an environmentally-conscious approach.” Now it’s looking to branch away from its area of expertise.

The local mill has applied for a tenure over the former wildfire base at the north end of Westside Road in order to develop the land for use as a youth camp in the summer and rentals in the winter.

They plan on using salvaged wood from the mill to build cabins using their award-winning brick wall systems.

Last Friday, I visited Take to Heart to talk to owner Keith Starling about his plans, and why he wants to expand the business and start a youth camp.

“I’ve always been attracted to troubled youth,” he told me, explaining that he wants to create a place where they can spend time outdoors and have a creative outlet. “My goal is to take troubled youth, get them working with their hands again.”

The concept began developing a few years ago when the mill learned that the old wildfire base was going to be decommissioned and the infrastructure taken out. Starling thought it was crazy for that to happen. “There’s a million dollars of infrastructure,” he said.

Working with Marcy Prunkle, they put together a tenure application to use the land. It proposes two main uses for the site, depending on the season. During the spring, summer and fall, the area would be a used as a camp for troubled youth, people with disabilities and other groups in need.

A not-for-profit society would be set up to run the camp, and it would partner with local groups like Community Connections to make it happen. “Our goal would be to give back to our community and provide positive outdoor experiences for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity,” the application states.

In the winter, the cabins would be rented out to seasonal residents or vacationers. Profits from the winter would go towards the summer camps.

“The community of Revelstoke would most certainly benefit from increased availability of accommodation, as well as the increased development of more long-term-structured programs for groups with special needs within our community,” states the application.

Part of the project involves a new initiative by Take to Heart to build pre-fabricated cabins using wood waste from the mill. The company received an honourable mention at the 2013 BC Wood Works Awards for its solid wood wall technology.

The cabins are designed by Henning Schipper, a German-trained architect who works at the mill.

The goal is to build the first cabin this summer and to use it as a showcase for future sales.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Starling. “There’s enough wood here to generate a house a week… We feel quite strongly that once we have the first one built it will be a success and we’ll be taking orders through the winter for the following year.”

The cabins would be used at the camp, and Starling even raised the idea of having youth build them in order to get hands-on skills.

The camps would be open to youth from all over, and Starling is hoping to get locals – particularly seniors – involved to lend their expertise.

He’s confident the application will be successful. “I feel quite strongly that we’ll get it,” said Starling. “I’d be surprised if we didn’t.”

Take to Heart proposal by AlexCooperRTR

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