November 25, 2005

Jenkins a design guy? (from November 25 issue of the Yukon News)

Jenkins could have his own reality show on the Home and Garden TV network — Health Facility Makeover.

Jenkins, who is Health minister, intrusively “micromanaged” of one of his “legacy” projects in Dawson, said Liberal MLA Pat Duncan.

Apparently, her questions on Wednesday so flummoxed Jenkins that he forgot how to count.

What was your involvement in the design and construction of the facility? asked Duncan.

“My involvement, as far as I recall, with respect to both the multi-level care facility in Watson Lake and Dawson City, was to ensure the room sizes were not coffin-sized, as the seniors had previously conveyed to me, but that they were larger than what were deemed necessary by those who lay out plans for this type of facility,” said Jenkins.

“That was one of my involvements.”

“The other one was to keep the design as simple and as energy efficient as possible.”

Several e-mails obtained under the Access to Information Protection of Privacy Act tell a different story, said Duncan.
Jenkins’s involvement went far beyond dictating room sizes and energy efficiency, she said.

After the design was finalized, Jenkins personally ordered the facility’s bedrooms be expanded by 35 per cent.

He demanded its boiler room be moved.

And he ordered the number of ambulance bays in its garage be increased, said Duncan.

“The only thing he didn’t do was pick out the colour of the bed sheets,” she said, to a roaring laugh from Jenkins.

“Why is the minister spending his day micromanaging the legacy project in Dawson instead of doing his job?”

“I freely admitted that I asked for an increase in the size of the rooms in the care facility,” replied Jenkins.

“That I was involved in.”

“And I asked that there not be one ambulance bay but two ambulance bays because there were two ambulances in the communities.

“That was the extent of my involvement.”

The noise from a boiler room next to the facility “was a simple matter to move it to another end of the building,” he added.
Those with a keen eye noticed Jenkins’s “involvements” had now officially increased from two to three.

And further questions pushed the number higher.

“And I had exception with the dining room opening onto 6th Avenue versus opening up into the cenotaph area looking over the park, which would be much more appropriate,” he said.

Duncan commented on the obvious.

“The more we ask questions and point out what the facts are, the more the minister is revealing how much he has personally been involved.”

On Thursday, Jenkins added that he had ordered changes to the building’s foundation.

All of were “common sense approaches,” he said.

“Minister Jenkins met with department and Charles McLaren on Feb 12th re care facility projects in Dawson City, and has requested the following,” wrote Cathy Morton-Bielz, Health’s director of continuing care, in a revealing February 2004 e-mail to Michael Cowper, senior project manager with Public Works.

Jenkins requested a “sole-source contract to Charles McLaren,” she wrote.

That contract was worth $17,530, and a second contract for the facility was $1,685.

A June 2004 e-mail from Morton-Bielz to Jim Newnham, project manager for building development at Public Works, then reveals Jenkins had begun playing architect on the care facility project.

“The minister of Health and Social Services reviewed the conceptual floor plans for Dawson today,” she wrote.

“He has directed Charles McLaren to make some significant changes.”

They included increasing bedroom sizes, making the front of the building into the back of the building, flipping the location of the dining area, relocating the service entry area and its “functional flow,” an addition to the common waiting room, increases to public health and physician space, a move of the boiler room and an increase in the size of the ambulance bay from three to six stalls.

The alterations required “revisions to the entire plan,” wrote McLaren.

The changes cost another $5,280, increasing the design cost 27.5 per cent.

McLaren e-mailed Newnham later in June to say he would make the changes, even though “some of them do not conform to good design practice.

“However, we have been given our ‘marching orders,’” he added.

“I must admit that I am uncomfortable with the manner in which this program is unfolding,” replied Newnham to McLaren.
Jason Cunning, Duncan’s researcher, had requests for these e-mail exchanges extended four times before he received them.

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