A non-profit organization says it is making the best out of a difficult situation as it continues to serve those in need in the middle of a construction zone. Despite giving the city a solid communications report card on the West Victoria Street reconstruction project, The Mustard Seed New Life Community Kamloops, at 181 West Victoria St., is feeling impacts — from losing water service, to fewer dental appointments, to saving a man who was overdosing and fell into a trench.
“We’ll be glad when we’re no longer in the thick of it,” Mustard Seed managing director Diane Down told KTW.
The city project began in April. Crews are upgrading utilities below the street that are more than 100 years old, repaving the road, landscaping, adding new lighting and relocating power lines underground.
Down said construction work led to a burst water main for the second time in less than a week on Tuesday, noting has been lost on several occasions.
“When you’re doing a project that size, it’s kind of inevitable that accidents happen, so we just lose water,” she said. “That’s tricky, though, depending on what time of the day it is. It impacts our dental operations, as well as our kitchen.”
Among Down’s larger concerns are seniors who are dental clients. The Mustard Seed offers reduced-rate dental and drop-in services, with many seniors referred there through the Centre for Seniors Information in North Kamloops. Those clients typically take transit downtown.
“They’re just not making appointments,” Down said. “We’re quite down in our appointments.”
Asked about its lunch outreach program, Down said evaluating impact on numbers as a result of construction is difficult.
“That would be a complex question to answer,” she said.
Number are down, but she said that drop coincided with the opening of the Spero House supportive housing project on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops. Down added that weather plays a factor on attendance.
Meanwhile, a recent incident has prompted talks about how to protect open pits along the pathway. A man who was in the middle of an overdose fell into one of the trenches about a week-and-a-half ago.
“Our outreach worker did assist him with Naloxone, and then the ambulance was called and they came and retrieved him out of the trench,” Down said. “Those were the very things we were concerned of. That traffic between Emerald House and us, those folks are not always stable for a variety of reasons and so it does impact things. That fellow was fine. It all worked out. We just talked a lot about how to protect the open pits along the pathway on the sidewalk side of the street, not only the street side of the street. It’s just tricky because it’s a very dynamic work space.”
Down said by the time clients arrive at The Mustard Seed, they have already navigated through the construction zone from downtown or North Kamloops.
She praised the city’s communication throughout the project and gave kudos to flaggers, who have been directing traffic.
She noted the non-profit’s services are offered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., meaning those coming back and forth are now are doing so by daylight.
Still, the agency is urging people to use caution.
The Mustard Seed expects construction will move out of its direct vicinity in July.
The city expects to complete the entire project by the summer of 2020.