Halifax rehabilitation centre flood damages treatment rooms, destroys charity café

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The burst pipe flooded the first floor and basement of the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre.  (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)
The burst pipe flooded the first floor and basement of the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre. (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's health authority says it could take months to repair damage to its rehabilitation and arthritis centre in Halifax after a sprinkler pipe burst Monday morning, destroying treatment rooms and a café run by Easter Seals.

Water flooded the first floor and the basement, destroying walls and flooring. The health authority said the most extensive damage is to the cafeteria and the University Avenue entrance.

"We'll be using a secondary entrance on that side and the cafeteria will be closed while repairs are completed and this could take up to four months," the health authority said in a statement.

Some treatment areas, as well a a part of the occupational therapy section were also damaged.

"We are working on a two-phase plan that will require some displacement of clinical areas and may even result in some cancellations. We are actively working on the plan," the health authority said.

Brian MacKay/CBC
Brian MacKay/CBC

The flood is yet another blow to Easter Seals' New Leaf program, which offers job training to people with cognitive and physical disabilities but has faced fundrasing challenges during the pandemic.

Staff arrived at the the New Leaf Cafe, which has been operating in the facility for nearly 20 years, only to discover the damage.

"Our ceiling tiles fell down, everything flooded," said Joanne Bernard, president and CEO of Easter Seals Nova Scotia. "We were able to remove our product, thankfully, but we have been told by the health authority that we're looking at about four months before it's repaired."

The café employed five people, said Bernard. Easter Seals will try to move them to the other New Leaf location in Dartmouth, or offer them spots in the Easter Seals commercial kitchen.

'Out of everybody's hands'

But both of those opportunities are already scaled down, as physical distancing rules limit the number of people who can work together.

"This unfortunate event is out of everybody's hands," said Bernard. "We always take care of our folks. We just always do. But financially its been a hit to the program of New Leaf, which ultimately is a hit to Easter Seals."

Bernard estimates they'll lose $20,000 during the closure. That money typically helps cover the cost of the New Leaf training programs.

"When you run a small social enterprise such as New Leaf, that's a significant part of the yearly budget," she said. "When you've got a pandemic that limits meetings, your catering production ceases to exist. Your fundraising levels are down, and then you're hit with this in the last quarter of the year, it's a lot."

Bernard is hopeful that the four-month estimate from the health authority is a worst-case scenario, but she said Easter Seals will do what it can to fill the large financial gap in the meantime.

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