SACKVILLE, N.B. – As the ashes settle from a devastating fire that destroyed a commercial building on Queens Road last month, the tenants are picking up the pieces and working to restore their operations as they cope with the loss of their facilities.

“The Soricimed lab will be back up and running again,” said Jack Stewart, chief scientific officer of Soricimed Biopharma Inc., a clinical-stage drug development company with its laboratory facility based in Sackville.Stewart said although lab equipment, supplies and some samples were lost in the Feb. 8 blaze, everything was fully insured and will be replaced; and their data was all backed up off site. He said although they’ve been faced with a “monstrous task” since the fire, everyone at the company has been working together to make a list of all the lost items and to seek a temporary space for their lab work.“We’ve got a really fantastic team of people,” he said. “So we’re going full steam ahead, we’re all right back at it.”The fire broke out on one side of the building on the evening of Monday, Feb. 8 and engulfed the entire building by the time it was done three hours later. The building at 95 Queens Road was home to not only the Soricimed lab, but also the Sackville public health office, Horizon mental health services and Daybreak activity centre.

Stewart said Soricimed has been fortunate to find temporary space for the six researchers that had been working out of the Sackville lab.

“We’re delighted and grateful to Mount Allison and UdeM, who both stepped forward and offered us lab space,” he said. “So that gives us a temporary reprieve . . . and it means work can go on.”

Now, he said, Soricimed can “catch our breath” before turning their attention to opening a new lab.

Daybreak activity centre has also been overwhelmed with offers of assistance since the fire. Executive director Melody Petlock said Mount Allison University has stepped up to offer Daybreak office space and activity rooms “for as long as we need until we resettle.”

The town has offered use of the Bill Johnstone Memorial Park activity centre for Daybreak’s arts and crafts events although she admits it will take time to restock their supplies.

“Members had access to every kind of art, craft and hobby-related supply to help them find ways to enjoy mindful occupations which stimulate the mind, add meaning to life, and relieve stress. Everyone is really missing that,” said Petlock.

And Daybreak’s support groups are continuing in members’ homes for now and Petlock said they want to continue with their activities as much as possible.

“Lots of people have offered help,” she said. “The United Church has offered us space as has Open Sky Cooperative. Some downtown businesses and organizations have talked to us as well. We feel very supported.”

She said Daybreak members have been looking at a lot of potential new spaces but don’t want to rush into anything long term.

“We need a good fit. We envision a great new space for support group meetings, an arts and crafts room, facilities for teaching cooking and life skills, and also a mental health resource centre with a library of self-help books and biographies of people who have lived with mental illness. We had a growing library at the old centre and it was always our dream to welcome the public to share these resources. As the ashes settle, we are building our vision and we know that somehow we will become a new and vital resource in Sackville. It is just a matter of time.”

As for the provincial public and mental health services, the Department of Health is working with its partners, including the regional health authorities, to try and ensure services continue to be delivered in the Sackville area.

Bruce Macfarlane, communications director with the Department of Health, said that a location has been secured at the Sackville Memorial Hospital for mental health services. And the department is working with local officials and partners to help with re-establishing the Daybreak activity centre.

“Concerning public health services, we are exploring options right now to offer these services in Sackville,” said Macfarlane. “For the time being, services are being provided in Moncton and Shediac.”

Sackville’s public health office offered immunization clinics and Healthy Toddler Assessment clinics.


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