Inside the shuttle are Gilles Denis, owner of IGA Cookshire, Sylvie Lapointe, mayor of Cookshire-Eaton, and the driver, Serge Lemieux.
The Municipality of Cookshire-Eaton, with the participation of Sobeys and the Transport de personnes HSF, is offering a free shuttle service twice a day, seven days a week, for citizens of Cookshire-Eaton and the surrounding area who wish to do their grocery shopping at the IGA in East Angus.
“After the fire, this has truly been a grieving period and a tragedy for us. The municipality has decided to support the business and the public by offering a free shuttle service twice a day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” said Sylvie Lapointe, mayor of Cookshire-Eaton. The shuttle bus leaves from the IGA Cookshire parking lot, and returns there an hour later. She added that the municipality will adjust the service along the way according to people’s needs and their use of the shuttle. “We will take the time needed to accommodate our people,” she said.
The goal of the city’s intervention, explained Gilles Denis, is to limit business loss from the area. Obviously satisfied with the initiative, he hopes to recover all of his customers when his IGA reopens. As for the number of people likely to use the shuttle, no one was able to say. The owner of IGA Cookshire said that when building the new downtown store, “it was calculated that between 15% and 20% of people came on foot to do their grocery shopping.” He added that 5,500 people visited his store each week.
Anxious to maintain contact with their customers, the IGA Cookshire offers to take orders by telephone and online, in addition to offering free delivery. “We will take orders over the phone, we will prepare them at the IGA in East Angus, and we will deliver them to people’s homes. We’re going to start with the Manoir de l’Eau Vive here in Cookshire, because there are a lot of people without a car, who aren’t necessarily able to go and do their own shopping. We’re serving our entire list of regular customers, which represents approximately 50 customers who use the telephone service. As for the online service, it is currently activated,” added Denis.
Customers anxious to have their grocery store back in Cookshire-Eaton will need to be patient. Without giving a date, Denis mentioned a period of weeks. “In terms of work, we are making good progress. The problem is to have all the replacement parts for our CO2 system; there are many electronic components that have been drained but are not functional. We don’t have the answer to how long it will take, because we are in the territory of the unknown. For the rest, our staff is with us and we have a lot of support. Everyone pats us on the back, encourages us. It’s stimulating.”
Denis admitted that times are difficult, but stressed that the store is going well and that it has a bright future. “With the development of the 410, our store has gathered momentum and we hope that next year it will really start moving.”
As for the investigation based on the possibility of criminal arson, Denis said he had no information to this effect, but did not hide his concern that an arsonist was the source. Mayor Sylvie Lapointe, shared this view. “It’s scary, because two days after the fire at the IGA, there was another fire in a building. One wonders if it is an arsonist; it’s scary for the municipality and for businesses.”