City looks to create asbestos registry

A letter regarding asbestos prompted plans to create a registry of locations asbestos can still be found within city buildings.

A letter of correspondence regarding asbestos prompted plans to create a registry of locations asbestos can still be found within city-owned buildings.

Council received the correspondence at the Aug. 17 meeting, from Phil Venoit, president of Vancouver Island Building Trades. It was addressed to the Prime Minister, Premiers, Members of Parliament, and municipal governments and brought forward concerns on the dangers of workers encountering asbestos in unexpected places as they do maintenance or renovation work.

Council referred the information to Public Works for recommendation.

Coun. Ron Popoff asked what Public Works would be reviewing and what might come out of it, if anything.

“What I would expect is that we would come up with a register of buildings that we are aware of that have asbestos in them,” CAO Wayne Staudt replied. “We are aware there is asbestos in this building (city hall). We do know some of it, we don’t know all of it — and same with some of our other buildings.”

Staudt said he couldn’t see any problem with creating a registry.

“It’s good information,” he said.

In the letter, Venoit noted that while asbestos mining has been shut down and Canada is no longer exporting to developing countries for processing, there is still the danger of encountering it in older buildings.

“The proliferation of products containing asbestos throughout the building construction industry over the past 75 and more years will likely go down in modern-day civilized history as one of our worst self-inflicted health care casualties, and it will not subside for many years to come. The best we can hope for is to mitigate its relentless wake,” Venoit wrote.

“Therefore, we are calling on the federal government, as well as all provincial and municipal governments, to develop and establish a National Building Registry of all public buildings which utilize building products containing Asbestos, and to make that registry online and available to all restoration and construction workers and companies.”

That way those workers could see ahead of time if the buildings contain asbestos products, what form those products are in and how best to remove or disturb each type of product. In the past asbestos has been used in floor tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, drywall, pipe and cladding.  “We are proposing the Building Registry begin with all public buildings, our parliament, legislatures, office and administration buildings, schools, hospitals, city halls, and associated real estate and public work yards.”