Lack of grants almost puts the nail in Toronto Tool Library

Crowdfunding campaign comes to the rescue of library's three branches, including one in East York

Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Toronto Tool Library is still the go-place for East Yorkers looking to borrow a power drill or belt sander.

The library, which has a branch on Danforth Avenue in East York, is a non-profit organization that provides members with access to tools for construction projects. It was facing closure after the grants it relies on to operate fell through, but has been able to raise $38,613 through an Indiegogo campaign.

“We missed all the grants we applied for this year. There’s not that many to apply for out there,” said co-founder Ryan Dyment.

Unexpected permits and audits added to the struggle, which was when the store turned to crowdfunding as an alternative source of income.

“We try to do the best we can for free, but we can’t always do it, so that’s what we needed the money for,” Dyment said. “Fortunately, our supporters made that happen.”

As well as grants, the store also depends on membership fees, which range from $50 to $100 a year. They’ve been increased slightly to help with expenses, the co-founder said, but it can be difficult to find a fair balance.

‘If you’re not winning on new things and we’re not winning on convenience, which we can never win, you have to win on something else,” Dyment said. “Price is the best thing that we can control to win on.”

The Toronto Tool Library, which Dyment and partner Lawrence Alvarez first launched in Parkdale in 2012, has helped numerous homeowners with renovation projects over the years.

“There are people who have been able to fix up their homes that wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise or don’t have the space to store everything that they wanted,” Dyment said.

The Danforth Avenue branch, the largest of the library’s three locations (the Hillcrest branch is on St. Clair Avenue West), has a wood shop complete with 3D printers and a laser cutter. It offers community nights on Wednesdays where the public can learn woodworking for free.

“It’s a really unique service in the city and I don’t know anybody else that does it,” Dyment said.

The crowdfunding campaign is still open for those interested in supporting the cause. Visit “Keep the Tool Library Alive!” for more information.