Legal Aid raises safety concerns about Natuashish hotel
Newfoundland and Labrador's Legal Aid Commission has found alternate accommodations in Natuashish after its chair pulled staff from the community's only hotel.
Nick Avis said he learned last week that Hotel Natuashish had several safety concerns, including a lack of fire exits.
"There is no fire escape, there is only one real entrance to the hotel and that all the windows have steel mesh over them and nailed shut so in the event of the fire there is no way to get out," he told CBC News Wednesday.
Later in the day, the commission said it had found other accommodations that will enable a circuit court to continue as planned.
Avis said there is a long-term concern about how court work will be carried out in Natuashish.
The original issue started when the hotel was unable to retain kitchen staff, and the legal aid lawyers were unable to find somewhere to get food.
"We're doing our best not to create any further delays [for cases], but the situation, as I said, is a very serious one and we're not going to put our staff in jeopardy," he said.
"The RCMP have been particularly helpful, offering housing, a place to stay, and things like that. Government is also working on it, we've been able to retain some private counsel who have alternate accommodations, but in the long term something is going to have to be done, but we're just not sure what that is yet."
Hotel can't compete with Muskrat Falls wages
Hotel Natuashish manager Steve Shultz told CBC's Radio Noon the windows had indeed been screened off, rendering them useless as fire exits, because of a series of break-ins at the hotel.
However, Schultz said there are six working fire exits in the hotel, and staff worked to clear them throughout the winter.
Shultz added fire officials in the area have not raised any safety concerns about the mesh covering over the windows, which were installed to deter break-ins.
Shultz said the hotel has been experiencing staffing issues in the kitchen, because the business can't compete with kitchen staff wages at the Muskrat Falls site.