The Gleaner
News

Eviction forces Friperie to seek new home

Callan Forrester
The Friperie Communautaire Huntingdon has been a community staple for over a decade. The thrift store offers accessible clothing and home goods at an affordable price, making it a necessity for many lower-income families. In early December, the Friperie was handed an eviction notice from the Town of Huntingdon and will now have to find a new location by the end of March.

In a statement released by the Town of Huntingdon, Mayor André Brunette explains that the decision to evict the Friperie, made by the municipal council on November 15, was based on several factors. These include a growing concern on the part of the town with the Friperie’s alleged lack of compliance with fire safety regulations, and the immediate needs of two other valuable community resources.

Brunette says the council was informed of the problematic situation with the Friperie, noting that what started as a minor issue has become, over time, untenable. He says the town has flagged multiple safety issues, including numerous potential dangers and fire hazards, as well as the improper and excessive storage of goods. These represent a serious threat to emergency response teams in the event of a fire as well as a potential impact on insurance and danger to citizens. “The Friperie administration has been advised on several occasions to correct the situation, but unfortunately no serious action has been taken,” he says.

 

Friperie manager Geneviève Breton (left) and general manager Guylaine Joannette are working on a plan to keep the Friperie Communautaire Huntingdon in the community so they can continue to support local families and remain part of the local economy. They are very appreciative of the community support received over the years and are hopeful a new location will be found that is convenient for Huntingdon residents. PHOTO Friperie Communautaire Huntingdon

 

Brunette points out the town has been an important financial partner to the Friperie over the last 12 years. The thrift store pays roughly $10,700 per year in rent, while the town subsidizes the remaining cost associated with the warehouse which amounts to an annual contribution of $49,700.

Growing needs of 
local organizations

Brunette says that beyond the safety concerns associated with the Friperie, the town also had to take into consideration the challenges facing two other local organizations.

La Bouffe Additionelle has seen a steep increase in demand and needs space to expand: “The premises currently provided by the municipality are now too small for the needs of the organization,” says Brunette, who confirms the food distribution service will move into a section of the building that currently houses the Friperie.

At the same time, the town was confronted with the possible relocation of the Services Québec office (formerly known as the Centre Local d’Emploi) to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. Brunette says the town “mobilized and launched a campaign to convince Services Québec to maintain its services in Huntingdon,” which will entail the remodeling of the current location of La Bouffe Additionelle.

Brunette says that when faced with such a dilemma the council weighed its options and, after analyzing the situation, was forced to prioritize. The mayor says he hopes the citizens of Huntingdon will understand this difficult decision, insisting it was made in the public interest of the municipality.

Friperie administration blindsided

Guylaine Joannette, the general manager of the Friperie, says the eviction notice came as a shock to the whole team and is adamant they never received a formal complaint from the town over fire hazards. “We never received a warning for fire safety that we didn’t conform to,” she says, noting their last interaction with the town took place in June, when they called about an unpleasant smell. “I need to see a warning and sign it,” she says. “We never saw one.”

Joannette says they reached out to the town in September to request a meeting to discuss the future, but there appeared to be no room for discussion. She says she had hoped to talk about the possibilities of sharing the building with La Bouffe Additionelle, but never got a chance to share her plans.

Joannette hopes the Friperie will find a new home in a convenient location. Organizers would ultimately like to set up multiple locations in different municipalities to bring services to as many people as possible. Though they are unsure where they’re headed in April, Joannette remains positive that a solution will be found.

3 Comments

Marianne Roy 2022-01-20 at 16:25

As a customer and donor of quality used clothing and reusable household appliances from the Friperie, I believe that the organization provides an indispensable public service to all the residents of Huntingdon and nearby municipalities and most particularly to young families; furthermore, the recuperation and reuse of those items mean that they do not find the road to landfills and save many thousands of dollars to the Town and the other municipalities while contributing to the environment; the Friperie also provides 8 permanent jobs to our residents as well as offering numerous programs throughout the year providing both on the job and social experience to many others.

There is a petition circulating to Save our Friperie asking the Town to, at the very least, give an additional 3 month delay so the Friperie can find an appropriate solution in Huntingdon where most public services in the MRC are to be found.

I was also very disappointed by the lack of journalistic professionalism shown by The Gleaner in, seemly, accepting the Town’s explanation at face value without any question.

Reply
sheila may vaincourt 2022-01-16 at 21:09

what the diff if it a fire hazer why do you let rebuffs in just close the who dame thing. You know that was a good place for people that do not have the money to go 2 big stores

Reply
Guylaine Joannette 2022-01-20 at 16:41

They cannot close it. Because never got a inspection saying that and we respect all rules. They just want it closed or not in there town. Because they think it’s only making the city look poor. You are invited to take a visit and see for yourself. What the counsil never did.

Reply

Leave a comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.