Earlier this month, SDRA President John Silins resigned. In a memorandum, which can be found at http://www.sunnysaltair.ca/community-update/sdra-president-john-silins-retirement-reflections/, he reflected on his eight years as an SDRA director and four years as president. In part, Silins commented on the CVRD’s decision to purchase the old, Mount Breton Elementary School and grounds. He said, “Soon after the purchase rumors or – in Trump speak ‘alternative facts’ were floated about, probably by unsuccessful developers. These included, in part , the building was full of asbestos and remediation would cost in excess of a million dollars as would deconstruction, the septic system was shot, no economical heat, health hazard, the roof needs replacement – hundreds of thousands of dollars, buried leaking oil tanks and so on. Unfortunately the rumors still persist. Why? Because the owner, CVRD, of the property never, in the years it owned the building, did a building inspection or assessment.”
Mr. Silins’ credentials as a volunteer and community activist cannot be questioned but his observations in this regard appear to be at least slightly incorrect. Some of Silins’ “alternative facts” are real facts resulting from inspections or assessments.
The building is in a manner of speaking “full of asbestos”. On July 16, 2014, Hazpro Environmental Ltd. (“Hazpro”) completed a hazardous material survey for the CVRD. With respect to asbestos, Hazpro reported, “Asbestos was identified in the mastic on the underside of the sinks; it is assumed that all sinks have asbestos mastic. In the furnace room asbestos containing duct tape as well as gaskets on the furnace. The plaster throughout the building is asbestos containing. The exterior stucco is asbestos containing as well as the vent mastic on the roof. The doors to the furnace rooms were not sampled but are assumed to be asbestos containing.”
Similarly, the roof does need replacement and this will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. On July 20, 2014, Westcoast Roof Inspection Services Ltd. (“Westcoast”) reported to the CVRD about the condition of the roofing. In part, Westcoast found the roofing was more than 15 years old with a life expectancy of one to two years and would cost between $321,000 and $535,000 to replace.
Even though the CVRD had eight weeks (June 16 to August 8, 2014) for pre-purchase inspections, these were the only two inspections completed prior to purchase.
Silins is also incorrect about the CVRD’s failure to do a building assessment or inspection while it owned the building. On July 7, 2016, North West Environmental Group Ltd. (“North West”), produced another asbestos report and an air quality report for the CVRD. In part, North West told the CVRD it would have to have a hazardous materials risk assessment completed by qualified personnel prior to any removal and/or alteration work within the building and that specific repairs and asbestos removals were required for compliance with the BC Occupational and Safety Regulation. North West’s air quality report describes a mould spore count in the gym that is 55 times higher than normal.