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Building collapse: Council applauds 'amazing effort' of community

'It’s just really a true testament to how caring our community is. It makes me very proud,' says Coun. Marchand at Penetanguishene council meeting
Richard Renaud, Town of Midland and Penetanguishene joint fire chief, speaks to the media Thursday afternoon after fire crews cleared and secured 78 Main Street after an overnight, partial building collapse last week.

Last week’s partial building collapse at 78 Main St. was front and centre at the Penetanguishene council meeting last night.

Mayor Doug Rawson began the evening’s meeting with a thanks to Fire Chief Richard Renaud.

“I want to thank you and your team for the unfolding emergencies before us," said Rawson. 

"I can’t thank you (enough) on behalf of our council and our town, our community and all the members for all you’ve done. I know it’s still unfolding, but everyone recognizes and sees the tremendous work you’re doing.”

The statement initiated a burst of applause from attendees as well as members of council and staff.

The start of the meeting continued with a section where council members would normally give statements on functions they attended since the last meeting. However, the Main Street building collapse was addressed by many councillors.

“I think there’s been nothing but highlights and success that have been done with the tragic event on the main street,” Rawson continued, with direct praise for CAO Jeff Lees. “I can’t thank you enough on behalf of our council and our community for unwavering work, the contribution, and commitment from you and your entire team.”

Coun. Suzanne Marchand gave kudos not only to municipal staff, but also to townsfolk involved since the incident.

“We’ve seen local businesses come together; Facebook posts and people collecting donations, funds and clothes," said Marchand. "It’s just really a true testament to how caring our community is. It makes me very proud as a member of this council to see how we’ve really rallied together to support our community.”

Other council members simply echoed the previous statements, with George Vadeboncoeur giving a shout out to people behind the front lines supporting those in the limelight, and Bill Waters noting that the retrieval of urns from the collapse was "an amazing effort."

During Lees’ time to speak, he expressed that “truly it has been an all-hands-on-deck situation” and gave large thanks to municipal staff.

“I think probably the most important piece,” stated Lees, “is that the town of Penetanguishene continues to maintain control of the site under the Building Code Act as it relates to the emergency orders that have been issued.”

Lees continued: “Our (chief building official), Mike Campitelli, is really, at the end of the day, the individual that is in control on behalf of the municipality. Shoring began yesterday, as was noted in the media release that was issued late yesterday.

“Housing continues to be at the very forefront of the circumstance we continue to work with our partners; in particular I can't say enough about the County of Simcoe, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Empower Simcoe, and the tremendous work that they do. There will be continued progress in the coming days as it relates to those that have been displaced.”

He added that the reopening of most of the sidewalks on Main St. gave him excitement to see shoppers engaging in commercial activity, and reiterated the efforts of staff and professional experts to make it happen.

Attendees clapped once again, prompting Rawson to pipe up again.

“Just one more final comment on the appreciation-applaud train,” said Rawson. “What people don't see is the phone calls at 3:30 in the morning and 11 at night, and that's time away from your family.” He then thanked the family members of everyone involved with the emergency.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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