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The municipal building in Verner has been evacuated and is off limits until further notice, as its structural integrity has been identified as a possible risk to public safety.
On April 25th, the Municipality of West Nipissing announced the sudden and immediate closure of the building and ordered all tenants out, citing structural problems discovered in the east wall of the building, facing the France Gareau Park.
Stephan Poulin, Director of Community Services for the municipality, said the damage was discovered during routine inspection. “We had a structural engineer have a look after we uncovered what we thought needed a bit more investigation on the east wall… where OMAFRA [is lodged]. They looked on Monday, and then they issued a recommendation Monday evening advising us that until the east wall is shored up, they did not recommend having any tenants in the building. We contacted all the tenants yesterday (Tuesday, April 24) to advise them of such and to vacate the building by the end of the day today (Wednesday, April 25).”
Poulin said it was not known yet when, or if, the tenants could return.
The tenants affected by the closure include municipal workers, Dr. Klère Bourgault’s medical practice (relocated to the Verner Pharmacy), the Verner library, the International Plowing Match office, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
Asked if there was imminent danger, Poulin responded, “That’s not the word they used but… for public safety, the walls have to be shored up. Once the wall is shored up, [we] will investigate and do a full building assessment. Right now we’re trying to secure a contractor that has shoring experience.” He added that it is an old building and they are not yet sure what caused the damage. “The structural engineer will have an opinion on that” following an investigation.