The mould-contaminated Yukon’s Children’s Receiving Home is also packed with asbestos.
In May, property management services hired Vancouver-based firm Theodor Sterling Associates to examine the mould and make recommendations.
The June 4th report found visible mould in the basement’s wooden ceiling, in the boiler room, in the basement-level boys’ bedroom, on the ceiling of the supervisor’s office, under the sink of the main-floor washroom, and by the kitchen baseboards.
In the stairwell, a large patch of mould had been covered up with a piece of plywood by Yukon government staff.
“Subsequent investigation has determined that the mould is not a serious health concern, but that it should be removed from the building as a precautionary measure,” said Health Minister Brad Cathers.
The home, located at 5080 Fifth Avenue in downtown Whitehorse, is run by Health and Social Services.
It can accommodate 15 children between the ages of 10 and 18.
Mould spores irritate the airways of allergy and asthma sufferers, said Cathers during a phone interview.
The mould “shouldn’t be an issue for most people,” he added.
Water leaks in the home should be the first problem fixed, according to the consultant’s report.
It also recommends opening up the basement ceiling and the wall in the bathroom and the area behind the stairwell so that any mould on structural wood can be scrubbed away.
The bathroom was classified as a “Level II” problem (10 to 30 square feet of mould reach), while the stairwell reached “Level III” (30 to 100 square feet).
The consultant also suspected that, due to the age of the home, there might be asbestos in the walls.
“A further investigation found that there’s asbestos in the drywall filler, a compound used to tape and fill joints in the drywall surfaces in the building,” said Cathers.
Left alone and undisturbed in place, the asbestos is not a danger.
Disturbed asbestos particles become airborne and penetrate into the lungs — a concern as asbestos is highly carcinogenic.
Once the drywall is removed to tackle the mould, the asbestos would become a health risk to anyone in the home.
Health and Social Services is working with the property management agency to look for temporary accommodation for the children currently in the home, said Cathers.
“The direction was ‘ASAP,’” he said.
He doesn’t know if the kids will be moved back into the receiving home following mould and asbestos remediation, or if they’ll move into another space.
He doesn’t know how long the renovations to the receiving home will take.
The government will not build a new facility, he said.
“That takes more time than we are willing to spend in this case,” he said.