Garrison employees jobless for five months

Crews work to restore the Garrison District after a f re broke out a little over a week ago. (Elizabeth McArthur/AQ)

It’s been a week and a half since the Garrison District Ale House and 32 jobs went up in smoke.

Employees of the restaurant are still in shock over the loss of their workplace, and their livelihoods. But despite the fire coming right after the season of giving, the Fredericton community rallied behind those impacted by the blaze the most.

“There’s been a lot of people and businesses that have come forward to say that they want to help in any way they can,” said Nicki Spidell, a server who lost her job of three years to the fire.

“It’s been incredible so far.”

The St. Thomas University graduate is now part of a fundraising committee representing the Ale House. It was formed by three Fredericton citizens, just regular patrons of the restaurant, who want to see their favourite staff taken care of while the Garrison is rebuilt.

“It’s not supposed to open again until maybe June,” Spidell said.

“It’s about five months without a job and it sucks.”

While the 32 servers, bartenders and cooks will be eligible for employment insurance, the fundraisers will happen later this month to help if anyone needs financial assistance right away or a little extra to get them through the jobless stretch. Some workers have children and families, and others are concerned about the lengthy process of getting that first E.I. payment.

“It’s a tough time to be out of work,” Spidell said.

“Plus there are still workers from Isaac’s Way that are looking for work, so there’s an influx of us in the industry right now.”

The fundraisers are being spearheaded by Joe Trevors, Rob Heartland, and Carter McLaughlin. Through social media, the three have come together to build a pair of events to raise money at the end of this month.

While not all the details are in place, as of yet the two events are tentatively set to take place on the Jan. 26 and Jan. 29.

The fundraiser on Jan. 29 will see the Delta Hotel open all four of their ballrooms up to live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and a food expo. Donations will be at the door, and it is expected the food will consist of a number of downtown businesses showcasing their wares.

“We’re not a hundred per cent on who will play on the stages yet, but we’ll have it up on our Facebook page before too long,” Spidell said.

The second event will take place at Kingwood Park. The plan for now is to have the event run from noon until late into the night.

“We’ve got the bowling alley building to use, as well as the lodge which is amazing,” Spidell said.

The lodge is again expected to have live entertainment on stage and other different events throughout the day including laser tag.

While Spidell is planning to return to her job when the restaurant reopens this summer, she admits the business will probably lose staff in between then and now.

“While the generosity has been absolutely amazing, we know that we’ll lose people. Not everyone can just not work for that long, and most of us are actively looking for jobs,” Spidell said.

“Plus we know that we’re not the most needy people out there so I think that these two fundraisers will be the only two that we do.”

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