On an early morning in January, police flaggers in reflective vests blocked off what is usually very busy Fredericton street for the delivery and assembly of what would become Liberty Lane’s new home – Kenny House. Over the course of the day, the flatbed truck operator deftly reverses one Maple Leaf Home module at a time into the narrow space, manoeuvering it around trees and utility lines. A crane delicately lifts the modules off of the flatbed trucks and places them on the waiting foundation and then places the modules on top of each other. The modules are built at a plant in Fredericton and then, patiently, assembled like blocks on site until Liberty Lane’s new 10 unit home is complete.
Getting to this point of building a new home for Liberty Lane was challenging. For more than 24 years Liberty Lane has offered women and their children a place to live while they tried to escape an abusive situation. The Board of Directors had been discussing a new home for several years. The demand for Liberty Lane’s services has always been greater than what they could provide and they wanted to change locations to better serve the families who need help. Their original location was away from basic things like grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and community resources. It didn’t have good bus service and it didn’t have apartments big enough for larger families.
“Besides it’s actual creation in the early 1990s, Liberty Lane has never taken on a project of this magnitude,” says Executive Director Fiona Williams. “We have a wonderful board of directors but none of us had experience with a construction project. It was quite intimidating. We weren’t sure how we should proceed once we made the decision to move forward.”
Fortunately, Liberty Lane’s Kenny House fundraising Patron and part of the husband and wife team for whom Kenny House is named (Kenny House is named for Joan and Bob Kenny, a well-known Fredericton lawyer who passed away from ALS in 2015), had occasion to discuss some of the challenges with the project with highly regarded community leader Bill Jones, President of Maple Leaf Homes. Eager to get any kind of guidance for the building project, Joan asked Bill a series of questions.
The staff and Board Members had not known that Maple Leaf Homes could build multi-unit residential facilities, so after Joan’s discussion with Bill, Liberty Lane contacted Maple Leaf Homes sales manager, Jacques Roy. “I just wanted to talk to someone about what we could expect from the process,” said Fiona. “I didn’t realize that Maple Leaf homes could do a multilevel build on our tight building site.“ Maple Leaf Homes became one of the contractors who responded to our call for proposals.
There were a number of key considerations that lead to Maple Leaf Homes getting the contract: Price, a workable timeline and the quality of the project. “There was a bit of information gathering on both sides at the beginning,” says Roy. “But that’s not unusual.” Once Fiona and I had a chance to talk about what Maple Leaf Homes could provide and the Board of Directors approved our proposal, the process moved along at the usual pace.”
“It was nice having a local contact,” says Williams. “If I ever had a concern or question, Jacques or someone from Maple Leaf was there with an answer.”
“It’s relatively easy to make some modification to the units,” says Roy. “The engineering is factored in and we make the changes in CAD (computer assisted design) and then build the units to the new specs.” Once the designs were finalized, the construction process began in Maple Leaf’s manufacturing plant in Fredericton. Because everything is built indoors, poor weather is not a factor and the given timelines for Liberty Lane’s delivery was on schedule.
Once the units were placed, the “button up” process of sealing the exterior and installing the internal components began. This process took approximately 3 weeks.
“We are so pleased with how our new units turned out at our new location,” says Fiona. “We had an unveiling at the start of the summer and the units looked beautiful. They looked fresh. And that is exactly what they are going to mean for women and their families who come to us for help – a fresh start.”