By David F. Rooney
There were some tough moments for former Moberly Manor employees on Tuesday morning as they watched the initial stages of the demolition of the beloved institution’s old, asbestos-contaminated wing.
“Oh, there are so many memories, so much history there!” exclaimed former RN Judy Vigue.
She and her daughter, Renee Howe who was a housekeeper/care aide, former care aide Patty Campbell and one-time cook Linda Bruder, watched in sadness as an excavator pulled out large white bags of asbestos-laden drywall (removed and bagged by a HazMat crew over the last few weeks) from the former long-term-care wing of the building where they had spent so many years attending to Revelstoke’s elderly.
“We had so much fun,” said Bruder.
“We were like one big family,” said Howe.
For Campbell, the Manor symbolized the way “Revelstoke really works as a community.”
Built with money raised by local townspeople back in the early 1970s, Moberly Manor has long had a special place in local people’s hearts. Six years ago the Interior Health Authority attempted to close the seniors’ home but a public demonstration that brought 400 people out into the street in protest and a long, sometimes bitter campaign by residents, especially the never-say-die Margaret McMahon, dissuaded it from following through. Eventually, the new cottages at Queen Victoria Hospital and an assisted-living facility on Second Street West were built to serve the needs of Revelstoke’s elderly.
The newer portion of the Manor will remain and new seniors’ housing my eventually be built on the site of the old wing, but watching the start of the two-day final demolition by employees of Clearview Grinding of Chilliwack is heart-wrenching for many people.
Retired school teacher Bill Husband was one of several people who came down to snap a few photos of the destruction. Husband fought his own battle with the IHA when it refused to accept his then 100-year-old mother, Verna, into the Manor and wanted to send her out of town. Husband enlisted the local and out-of-town news media in an ultimately successful battle to squeeze her into the Manor. His mother has passed from this world, however, the cruel stress of that that fight with the IHA has left its mark on him.
But those days are gone and the Manor is not what used to be: a small-town seniors’ home run in a relatively informal, small-town way by and for small-town people. Now it’s administered by InSite on behalf of BC Housing.
Brett Renaud, how 45, remembers watching the walls go up when he was a kid. Now he’s watching them come down. There’s a little but of irony in the fact that, among other things, he now manages the CSRD landfill where the debris will end up.
“The drywall contains about one per cent asbestos,” he said. “That’s minimal but it still needs to be disposed of properly.”
And disposed of it will be. The old wing of Moberly Manor is expected to be completely flattened and Wednesday evening.
The Revelstoke Current has published a two-minute video of the demolition that includes comments from Vigue, Howe, Campbell and Bruder. You can go to the Current Video feature on the front page or to YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddF1pUJStKU to watch it. In the meanwhile, here are two more images of the tear down: