by Isabel Mosseler
The municipal building in Verner remains closed since April and local citizens are not happy. The matter has come before WN council at three consecutive meetings, June 5th, June 12th and June 19th, and the results of the engineering studies will not be delivered to council until June 21st. There will be a special council meeting called on June 28th to go over the engineer’s report and to make the necessary decisions concerning the building. In the meantime, some tenants have been relocated, but not to everyone’s satisfaction, and the library in Verner remains closed.
At the June 5th meeting, Stephan Poulin, Director of Community Services, said the preliminary report by the engineering firm of J.L. Richards revealed the need for further investigation “after additional issues to the structure of the building [arose]. They’ve begun the second phase of investigation.” He said a contractor had to remove drywall and ceiling tiles to investigate structural damage and that the firm would provide a complete report regarding repairs and estimated costs. “In addition … some of he tenants have requested ‘Can we go back in and remove items we need?’” He said that the engineers were now in full control of the municipal structure, and they provided a 4-hour window to allow the tenants to remove items. At the time, he could not provide a timeline on when the building would be accessible.
Mayor Joanne Savage was not pleased. “The engineers seem to be taking a lot of time …what are we telling the engineering firm [regarding] timeline?” Poulin responded that a contract for the second phase of inspection had been signed the day before (June 4) and that the firm had a seven-day window to return a report, adding “that’s a very aggressive timeline”. In a subsequent interview with The Tribune, he specified it was actually seven days to complete the inspection and a further 7 days to submit the report.
The delay is also not sitting well with Dr. Klère Bourgault, whose medical practice operated out of the municipal building. The only family physician serving the small town wrote a letter to the municipality stressing that the situation is causing strife to her practice and her patients. “After almost 18 years of practice in Verner, my nurse, Kathie Laurin, and I were asked to evacuate within less than 24 hours on April 24th.” She moved her practice quickly to the pharmacy in Verner, but “the space is barely adequate.” She listed a series of difficulties from lack of space for basic medical equipment to extremely tight office and waiting room space. “We are unable to presently receive or send faxes, unable to do certain procedures (PAP tests, joint injections, minor procedure). We had to stop providing our service of doing blood tests…” She indicated that elderly patients are particularly affected, adding that it was unreasonable to expect her to wait 3 months or more and she required a wheelchair accessible site, and she had some ideas on where she could relocate. “The space needs to be safe, private and welcoming.”
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