No risk for Sandspit volunteers, survey shows

  • Apr. 15, 2011 1:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–A hazardous building material survey at the Sandspit Hall revealed that volunteer workers had not been placed at risk. The topic was discussed at the April 14 Moresby Island Management committee meeting, after WorkSafe BC ordered a survey at the Community Hall site. The building was checked over and, some asbestos was found in the vinyl tiles on the floor and lead in the exterior paint, but volunteers had not touched those. Volunteers had been working for several weeks on interior demolition work, removing drywall, ceiling tiles and fibreglass insulation, to prepare the site for the contractors. At the March 10 MIMC meeting, MIMC chair and regional district director Evan Putterill had praised the volunteer commitment. He said the work saved the project $14,000, which could “be applied to something else.” MIMC member Gord Usher wanted to know how volunteers ended up in a potential risk situation. He said one of the professionals involved in the design, such as the architect or engineer or the regional district should have known better. Mr. Usher was the key organizer of the volunteers. MIMC chair and regional district director Evan Putterill said he was surprised to hear about the possibility of hazardous materials as well. “I spent two weeks on the demo.” Fortunately we did the assessment and the volunteers were not exposed to any risk, he said. The Observer spoke with Helen Koning at the Regional District and she said they were not aware of the WorkSafe requirement, but as soon as they became aware, they took the steps needed. “It hasn’t been as big an issue as people thought,” she said of the risk. The vinyl tiles will be removed now through an abatement process and they will be properly disposed of. This will cost extra, to come out of the contingency fund. She said this has delayed the project a bit, but she believes the work will still be completed by the target date of September 30. The project has been in the works for several years and has received funding from several sources including Towns for Tomorrow, Gas Tax funding, Coast Sustainability Trust and more, for a total of $700,000.

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