Nestled at the junction of Highway 2 and Highway 305 lies what appears to be an old work camp to the average eye. But to those who know, it's the base for a COVID-19 camp capable of housing nearly 100 people infected with the coronavirus.
The facilities were previously used as a hydro work camp and have been repurposed to fit the needs of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Jack Park, MMF minister of energy and infrastructure tells us the state of the camp.
"The camps are ready and able to take any affected person by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have them fully equipped, sanitized, and ready to go if anybody ever needs to. Our services are available."
The camp has not been used by any COVID-19 patients, but Park knows they'll be ready to host people if the time comes. He explains how a patient would be allowed to enter the facility.
"The procedure is that you need to be referred by one of the health authorities within Manitoba, and it doesn't matter where you're from anywhere within Manitoba," says Park. "We would bring citizens in and put them in this camp in Treherne specifically, and we have a smaller camp in Winnipegosis since that's ready as well. It's just that they need to be referred. We're hoping that the referral process happens because we've made it known."
Park says the Federation saw a need and wanted to prepare in the event of a pandemic. The facility east of Treherne can accommodate up to 96 people while the MMF camp in Winnipegosis is much smaller in size. The camp is staffed by a manager/cook, a breakfast cook, and maintenance personnel.
One of the criticisms the camp has faced is the large metal fence and gate looming around the perimeter of the facility. Park stresses they mean no foul.
"The main reason we wanted to fence those camps was to ensure that we didn't have people coming and going without our knowledge, or wandering around the campgrounds or not. You know, dealing with people that shouldn't be there when we're dealing with a COVID-19 situation," says Park. "We need to ensure that there are people that we have in that camp are protected. We didn't mean anything negative by it. It was just a safety measure to ensure the people that attend the camp are protected."
The facility has full power, backup generators, and sewage and attendees of the camp will get three meals, with access to constant cable and WiFi.The camp also features a triage unit, so those who arrive will be properly screened before shown to their room.
"We don't want anybody to worry. We want people to know that we're there If they need us, and we're ready, willing, and able to help them if they ever need help," says Park. "We want to be sure people know that the Manitoba Metis Federation and Metis N4 Construction are here for them."