CORNER BROOK — More than a month after laying off maintenance staff at the Pepsi Centre, more concerns have come forward about the cleanliness of the facility.
Following a private event held at the Annex portion of the centre this weekend, the washrooms were still in a deplorable condition Wednesday. In both the men’s and women’s washrooms, there were unflushed toilets — one even containing mould on the surface — and a shattered, clear glass in one of the stalls. Toilet paper and tissue was discarded along the floors that were sticky in places because of some kind of dried liquid. The sinks and counters were also lined with paper towels and other garbage.
Nathan Wareham, operations manager, and Willie Smith, general manager, were unaware of the mess. They said there is a schedule for maintenance based on priority, and the Annex area was not a priority area given there was nothing scheduled there this week.
Wareham said they are under-staffed in terms of maintenance during this time of year, while Smith described it as having limited resources rather than under-staffed.
On July 1, two full-time maintenance positions were eliminated.
“Resources have always been limited,” Smith said. “We have tried to prioritize in terms of spaces and ensuring everything is adequately prepared for.”
With those limited resources, a schedule has to be put in place for maintenance. Generally, an area where there is no activity receives less priority.
During the summer Smith said there is little use for the Annex for recreational purposes. Later this fall, that will change significantly. With a dedication to recreation, Smith said a full-time attendant is expected to be hired to monitor the programs and activities hoped to be there on a regular basis. That person would also be able to monitor things like cleanliness.
After being informed of the mess, Wareham said he would have it cleaned Wednesday. He said it would have been cleaned prior to the Jimmy Flynn Show tonight and again for a wedding scheduled there this weekend.
During a shift for such an event, there are two workers on at the facility to keep an eye on things. Wareham said their ability to monitor everything happening may at times be limited.
“Is there an excuse for the washroom not being cleaned? No, there is not,” Wareham said. “I will have that attended to right away.”
Wareham said the plan is to limit access to some washrooms during regular operation. He said they will be cleaned, gated off, and opened for special events only.
In his first year at the facility, Wareham said there has been a lot of good things happening with respect to cleanliness and upgrades. He said maintenance is a top priority.
He is also encouraging people who see problems or have concerns to inform staff.
“If we don’t know it is happening or don’t know it is there, it is easy to let things build up,” he said.
Smith also said it is time for users to take ownership of the public building.
“We need people to treat the building with respect, and that is absolutely critical as we move forward,” he said. “We are looking forward to engaging our user groups in making it the best place it can possibly be.”