For years, some Salt Spring Island residents have saved up dirty bedding over the winter just to be able to wash it in a tub when the warm spring air will dry it, according to the founder of a grassroots organization operating a new, and much anticipated, local laundromat.
The Wagon Wheel Housing Society, a grassroots organization, has been working since 2016 to raise funds for a laundry facility after the only one on the island closed. Society founder Cherie Geauvreau saw that dream come to reality June 1 thanks to the kindness of local residents.
"It all came from people on Salt Spring," said Geauvreau, speaking on CBC's On The Island Friday. "Just from people who understood that this was not a humane situation."
She said the lack of a laundromat has directly impacted low-income residents who were otherwise forced to handwash or rely on friends and family or scrape together about $80 to travel to the nearest laundromat in Duncan on nearby Vancouver Island.
"People have been just making do," she said.
The new laundromat also has a wheelchair accessible shower for anyone needing access to a proper shower.
Geauvreau said she has already had feedback from a resident who lives on a boat.
"That was a beautiful experience and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Geauvreau said the freshly washed resident told her as he left.
The laundromat will also be of help to Island residents who have their own machines but are on wells that can run dry.
She says, post-pandemic, island visitors will benefit as well.
"When the tourists come back, we are going to be able to print money."
She says all profits raised from the laundromat will go toward affordable housing solutions for islanders in need, such as rental assistance for families who would otherwise be faced with having to move off island.