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Space transformed

The burned out remains of the former Bank of Commerce on Victoria Avenue has become artist Carol Kajorinne's latest blank canvas.
Carol Kajorinne cleans up some glass on Aug. 16, 2012. (Jeff Labine,

The burned out remains of the former Bank of Commerce on Victoria Avenue has become artist Carol Kajorinne's latest blank canvas.

A Lakehead University graduate, she and other artists participated in a pilot art project in 2010 with the city to help transform the former bank.

A fire gutted the historical building in 2007 leaving nothing besides the front columns. They tried to clean up the area as much as they could and make it more comfortable for people to stay in.

Kajorinne said their efforts helped to reduce crime in the area and ever since then she has worked to try to get volunteers and funding in order to transform the vacant lot into a permanent space for people to visit.

“The space has a lot of potential,” Kajorinne said.

“I wanted this space to be more about the community coming here to create. Most of the projects I would like them to be more about community groups coming in and doing a project. Maybe it’s making a pathway out of the glass we’re collecting and making it into a space they feel is theirs.”

She and about seven other volunteers were at the Victoria Avenue lot cleaning up shards of class and other garbage. She said she hoped to have the project started this year but the process has gone a lot slower than she expected.

She has started talking to officials with Community Arts and Heritage Arts and Education project in order to do some projects next year.

“Once we transformed this space back in 2010 it kind of brought a whole new breath of fresh air into the neighbourhood,” she said. “People just felt good and you could just tell they needed it.”

Dan Fulton, a volunteer who helped coordinate the cleanup, said he’s taken up other projects in the past and wanted to tackle the empty space in the city’s south side. He’s worked with Evergreen Neighbourhood Project and helped plant plants around the city.

He said he heard about the sculpture garden going into the lot and thought he should do something to help.

“I always drove by and wondered ‘jeez, what are we going to do with it’,” Fulton said. “The city has only so many resources and this is good because it gets people involved and allows them to take ownership in their neighbourhoods.”

Anyone who wishes for more information can visit the group’s Facebook page.