Accessibility restored to Gensen

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Workers from Arcan take apart a wall of the lobby at the Gensen Building last week.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Workers from Arcan take apart a wall of the lobby at the Gensen Building last week.

After a week without easy access, clients of health authority offices and businesses on the second floor of the Gensen building will regain the use of the elevator this week.

The building’s lobby was being renovated for both practical and aesthetic purposes, said its co-owner Tod Ashton, which cut off not only the front door and main access to the second floor, but also the elevator some people used to get there. Instead, clients were asked to come in through a stairway at the back of the building. The second floor houses the offices for medical travel, the Healthy Families program, Community Counselling as well as The Hub’s offices.

“The contractor is going to work with people on an as-needed basis to have them use the elevator,” Ashton told The Hub last Friday, noting that he expects the work to be done shortly in any case. “The project manager went and met with Community Counselling and they worked something out.”

The construction also removed the existing ramp for wheelchair access for both the second floor health authority offices as well as the ground level businesses, which are up a few steps from the sidewalk. Ashton said the same as-needed arrangement will be made for the needs of wheelchairs and strollers until the renovations are completed.

“We’re hoping it will be an improvement to the building,” he said of the construction. “And to some extent the downtown core as well.”

Although some of the health authority staff on the second floor had not heard about the renovations before they began and others sent e-mails to Ashton about the difficulties for clients, spokesperson for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority Erin Griffiths said the authority had not experienced a disruption in services.

“I spoke with our service providers currently located in the Gensen building and they have been working with their clients to make alternate arrangements and provisions to work around the construction,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Hub last week. “It has caused some delays for clients and others who called saying they couldn’t get in and didn’t know where the back door was. We posted signs both front and back so people knew where to go and made some phone calls to clients. I have checked with staff and no one has a need for the elevator.”