France Bournazel inside the deli area being renovated at Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Rebuild for Island farm market for spring opening well underway

Scars from the massive flood being repaired through a “river-ation”

France Bournazel is a firm believer that you can always find a silver lining, no matter how bad things might seem.

The co-owner of Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre near Westholme that was flooded and heavily damaged during a torrential rainstorm Friday night and early Saturday morning is accentuating the positive.

The sign is still standing outside the building on the Trans Canada Highway, she noted. “We have to keep going.”

Indeed, work is already moving along quickly since the flood waters receded to repair the damage and rebuild for a spring re-opening.

Bournazel said the target date for the Garden Centre that was on higher ground is the end of April and June 1 for the Market & Deli.

“Right now we’re closed for ‘river-ation,’” she added, her twist of a phrase for renovation.

In addition, “the special of the deli today is mud pie,” Bournazel quipped.

“You’ve got to have a sense of humour about it or you’re not going to make it. You know, it’s not that bad. People got condemned out of their homes and didn’t have any insurance.”

Insurance coverage is helping Russell Farm Market to proceed with the massive rebuilding project right away, however many incidentals are not covered.

“All live plants found in the bush are not covered,” Bournazel pointed out. “You’re never ahead with insurance. I prefer these things don’t happen.”

It was indeed a chaotic scene at Russell Farm at the peak of the rising water. Coolers, equipment and garbage bins floated across Mount Sicker Road, the night employee had to be rescued and the three goats located in a shed next to the Garden Centre were also brought to safety amid fears they might drown.

Unfortunately, people helped themselves to items that floated away from the site during the upheaval.

“I had to stop people coming,” said Bournazel.

The aftermath of everything brought a rude awakening, but it’s been on with the job rather than dwelling on the disaster.

“Everything has to be replaced, right down to our cash registers,” noted Bournazel. “Listen, some people out there have it worse than me.”

She was most concerned about her employees who have been displaced from their jobs. There are 10 year-round employees and another 10-15 seasonal workers.

“My people work here, they have a mortgage, they have a car loan,” Bournazel indicated. “They need their job.”

An attempt will be made to find them some temporary employment at least to fill the gap.

There were three factors, Bournazel said, that contributed to the situation at Russell Farm.

“Yes, we had a lot of rain. It was amazing what Mother Nature gave us for a surprise.”

On top of that, though, she added, the Chemainus River bed is so much higher now than it used to be and hasn’t been cleared. Also, the windstorm of December 2018 caused logjams on the river, affecting the flow.

On Side Restoration, Westisle Heating & Cooling and electricians have been diligently working on gutting the building and starting the rebuild.

“They’ve been working for a week without stopping,” said Bournazel.

“We met with insurance on Sunday morning and were given the go-ahead to start first thing Monday morning,” said Kevin Michieli, branch manager for On Side Restorations.

Testing for asbestos and other hazardous materials was the first important factor that needed to be done and none were found to be present.

“Monday, Tuesday, we had 14 staff here plus sub-trades plus the owner, they had some of their staff helping with the listing of the content,” noted Michieli.

“We started working and dealing with the silt. The silt in here was amazing. There was spots in here six inches deep in silt.

“Once we get all the walls and stuff off, we’ll do a bit of disinfection and make sure everything’s clean.”

Many food items above the flood line and without pending expiry dates were salvaged and donated to the Halalt First Nation and families in need.

“Ninety per cent of it was contaminated,” pointed out Michieli. “All the produce was ruined.”

Through the whole ordeal, Bournazel’s thoughts turned to former business partner Russell Stewart, who died in 2017.

“My heart is in the market, just like Russell,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Donations have been pouring in to Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. Doreen Gunn, left, drops in to the site and writes a cheque to owner France Bournazel. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre is closed, but the good news is it will re-open in the spring. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The inside of Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre has been gutted as the first steps in a rebuild. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Mud was caked on everything outside Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Workers tearing out the lower part of the walls inside Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. (Photo by Don Bodger)

On Side Restoration on the scene of renovations at the Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

Cermaq Canada continues to adapt operations amid Covid-19 pandemic while supporting employees and local communities

As governments, communities and Canadians continue to modify behaviors and activities based… Continue reading

COVID-19: North Islanders bang pots and pans to honour essential workers

‘Hopefully we can keep it going for them because these people are showing up at work every day for us’

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: Juvenile eagle

‘I was able to drive up close to it and get a few pictures without getting out of the truck’

Port Hardy Secondary School’s 2019-2020 wrestling season

Both Lamothe and Speck thanked Cleary for volunteering his time to sponsor the program.

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Most Read