It has been almost two years since 3/11 and with most of the clean-up now done the reconstruction work is expected to move ahead at full steam this year. The Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project has been at the forefront of the reconstruction in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture and we are proud to announce that the Donguri Anne Library project was completed on January 18th. Canada’s new Ambassador to Japan Mackenzie Clugston as well as NRCan’s Director General Glenn Mason were on hand to celebrate along with many representatives of the Canadian wood products industry.
The library project has been very well received by the local community. The mayor and other town officials repeatedly praised the Canadian effort to rebuild this crucial community gathering place. The exposed Canada Tsuga (hem-fir) posts and beams created a warm but dynamic interior that will welcome locals for years and years to come. The beautiful WRC on the outside of the building also stands in sharp contrast to the cold concrete structure that is being replaced (the original building suffered extensive damage in the 9.0 earthquake and is currently being demolished). However, watching locals and in particular children rush in to borrow books as soon as the ceremony had been completed was the most rewarding scene of the day.
January 18th was actually a double celebration as we also held the ground breaking ceremony for the Yuriage Market reconstruction project immediately following the library opening. The market project is much larger and also more complicated as the original facility was ground zero for the tsunami. As a result, reconstruction in that part of Natori City has been slowed by fears of future disasters. One of the countermeasures that has been taken is to raise the ground level between 70-400cm. Natori City finally completed the ground raising for the market area in December which has allowed us to proceed with construction.
Once again the local community came out to thank Canada for helping rebuild this area. The ground breaking was extensively covered by local print and television media demonstrating the importance of this market which before the earthquake was the largest and most famous in the Tohoku region. The chairman of the association that runs Yuriage on behalf of the city became emotional as he explained how this project will be the cornerstone of the entire area’s rebirth once it is officially open in early May. I am very much looking forward to that day which will see people return to this now empty and eerily quiet former neighbourhood.