July 17th, 2024

AUPE raises safety concerns regarding Melcor Centre

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on April 27, 2022.

Submitted photo Flood damage at the Melcor Center.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta Union of Public Employees says a downtown Lethbridge building is unsafe for workers and visitors.
The Melcor Centre has suffered three floods in Government of Alberta Offices this year including one on Sunday caused by problems with overhead pipes, says the union, which claims there have been eight floods in the building since 2014.
The union also says there is a mould problem, as well as mice, black widow spiders and silverfish in the building.
AUPE members say they have been trapped in elevators and claim stairs are unsafe.
The office tower and main floor were built in 1975 at a cost of $22 million by Poole Construction. A second retail level was added in 1988. Formerly known as Lethbridge Centre, the building originally housed a store called Woodwards which is now where The Bay is housed, two theatres and numerous stores.
The name of the structure was changed to Melcor Centre in 2018. Over the years, it has transitioned from a retail mall to a centre housing health and professional services.
Darren Graham, vice-president of AUPE, said Monday if the most recent flood had occurred on a Monday instead of Sunday “you can imagine” what may have happened with clients present.
“My understanding is there has been stuff happening in other areas of the building as well, not just the Government of Alberta and AHS areas,” said Graham.
If a ceiling tile fell on someone, especially on a young child, it could kill them, said Graham.
“The full sized ones are fairly hefty; saturated with water, they probably get up to 50 lbs.,” he added.
Another concern is mould coming back into the building, he said
“We’ve already found black mould once and it was remediated and it still smells pretty bad in some areas in that building,” added Graham.
“It’s just a really old building…it needs a full gut and to be renovated. It just can’t keep getting band-aid solutions on it,” said Graham about the building.
“Nobody seems to know why these pipes keep breaking,” he added.
“Enough’s enough, we need better for the citizens of the city and we need better for our members who work there,” said the union rep.
“It’s scary too when you go to work and you don’t know am I walking into more toxic mould….is something going to crash on my head? Do I cover my desk in plastic before I leave just in case?” he added.
“We’re fortunate in a way because with COVID, we have had fewer members working out of there but they’ve been trying to return members back to the office.”
He said the old empty Sears building could be a possible solution for AUPE concerns.
“We need something done fairly quickly to protect the clients and our workers.”
Melcor had not responded with an email request for comment by press-time.

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