QUEBEC CITY — Quebec architect Chantal Giard has been given the mandate to oversee the construction of a new fire station in densely populated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, five years after a catastrophic earthquake claimed at least 230,000 lives.
“My heart is there, I’ve been there eight times.”
“It’s not an easy country. Also there is very little machinery there, so a lot is done by hand. Just to dig the foundation, it’s usually done by hand because there’s no machinery, because it can’t go through the streets,” the Emergency and Development architect noted.
“Basically, it takes a lot more time.”
The fire station will take two years to build, almost double the time it would take to build one in Quebec — and that’s because Haitians will also be trained in the process.
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume is at the heart of the project.
“First of all, it’s to rebuild the fire department; on the other side, it’s to provide training and knowledge to those firefighters there,” he said.
Quebec City is investing $170,000 and Ottawa is picking up the rest of the tab: $2.6 million in emergency funds.
“The firefighter station is in a very bad shape now, it could collapse at any time,” said federal International Development Minister Christian Paradis.
“This is why this critical capacity needs to be revamped right now.”
The project is still in the planning phases and construction is set to begin in about a year.
In the meantime, Paradis warned that Canada will continue to put pressure on Haiti to achieve political stability.
“We expect Haitian people to solve their political issues,” said Paradis, adding: “If you want to have investments, you have to provide stability.”
WATCH: Haiti five years later
The Haitian parliament is currently paralyzed and its congress has missed the deadline to set elections.
Ninety-nine deputies and 10 senators lost their mandates this week.
Paradis said political instability in the country could jeopardize future long-term investments.
Amnesty International estimates more than 85, 000 Haitians still live in temporary camps, five years after the quake.
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