Fir Park facelift a million dollar morale boost

A major renovation project will bring lighting, flooring and carpeting up to modern standards at Alberni's Fir Park Village/ Echo Village.

For the first time since it opened in 1981, Fir Park Village is getting a major facelift.

Through the years the Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society has received feedback from residents on what improvements were needed, and minor projects were undertaken, Fir Park Village executive director Barb Stevenson said. The residents’ association has occasionally purchased furniture or decorative items for the facility.

However, this four-month construction project will bring lighting, flooring and carpeting up to modern standards, said Fir Park Village/ Echo Village Foundation president Jack Buffie.

The front part of the facility will be reconfigured to include a secure entrance and relocated Village and administration offices and store. The lounge and dining room entrances will be changed, creating a small dining area outside the main dining room and preventing the logjam that happens now at the entrance as residents wait for mealtimes.

Public washrooms will also be remodeled. The decor throughout the main areas will be updated with new paint, flooring and carpeting, better lighting and raised handrails. Two years ago staff members formed a committee that worked with a decorator to come up with a new scheme, and staff raised a couple of thousand dollars to put towards these improvements. Stevenson said.

The upgrades will be a huge morale booster for the 65 residents and accompanying staff, says Jim Viger, vice-president of the Fir Park Village Residents’ Society. “It will affect our lives,” said Viger, who has lived at Fir Park for the past five years.

It will be a major disruption, but worth it in the end, he added.

Construction began in early December with the removal of ceiling panels in one wing, in preparation for better lighting. Contractor WJ Murphy Contracting of Nanaimo agreed to take a break during the holidays, but construction will start up again Jan. 2, Stevenson said. The project is slated for completion in April.

WJ Murphy has previous experience in health care construction, particularly in occupied long-term care facilities, Stevenson said.

Construction will be completed in stages to minimize interference with care routines,  Buffie said. A temporary door has been installed in the first wing and heavy-duty plastic will be put up to minimize dust.

Viger said it will be important for staff and residents to work together during construction.

He will liaise between the residents’ association and staff members to make sure residents’ concerns are heard.

The renovation will cost about a million dollars before it’s complete. Fir Park Village received a $92,000 donation from the now-defunct Royal Canadian Legion Br. 55, from the sale of the Legion’s building before amalgamation with another local branch.

Eighty-five per cent of the cost is coming courtesy of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Stevenson said.

The balance of the cost will come from local fundraising initiatives, Buffie said. The hope is that the foundation can raise a little bit more so it can afford a few luxuries as well as the necessities.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Fir Park Village/ Echo Village Foundation may call Barb Stevenson at 250-724-6541 ext. 232, Donna Michaud at ext. 244 or Jack Buffie at 250-720-9147.



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