Carcross visitor centre mouldy, but safe: territory

The Carcross Visitor Information Centre is safe to occupy, despite the presence of mould and asbestos in its crawlspace. That’s the conclusion of a report, drafted by environmental consultants, that the Yukon government released Monday.

The Carcross Visitor Information Centre is safe to occupy, despite the presence of mould and asbestos in its crawlspace.

That’s the conclusion of a report, drafted by environmental consultants, that the Yukon government released Monday.

The territory shuttered the building in early May after its nine staff expressed concerns about air quality to higher-ups.

While visitor centres elsewhere in the territory opened their doors, experts from PHH Arc Environmental crawled around the Carcross centre’s damp crawlspace, collecting samples to analyze back in the laboratory.

They found low concentrations of mould spores in an employee’s office, the reception and staff rooms. It remains unclear whether these spores, of the commonly-occurring cladosporium variety, originated from outside or from the building’s crawlspace, where inspectors found “slight” mould growth and poor air quality.

Inspectors also found traces of asbestos during one of nine spot checks. The carcinogenic material was also found in the crawlspace, where 12 metres of asbestos-insulated piping was removed in 2006.

Air tests found all routinely-occupied spaces in the building to be safe from asbestos.

The consultants recommend the crawlspace be cleaned of mould and asbestos, sealed and coated with fungicide. They also recommend that humidity-triggered exhaust fans be installed to prevent air from the crawlspace wafting into the occupied building.

The cost of this work isn’t yet known. And it will remain a challenge to keep groundwater from seeping into the crawlspace. Similar water and mould damage occurred several years ago.

The Tourism Department has no immediate plans to move staff back into the building. Staff, who are currently manning a trailer that has been hauled on to the visitor centre’s parking lot, will be consulted on May 25.

The centre is located inside the old White Pass and Yukon Route railroad depot. Built in 1910, it’s one of the territory’s oldest buildings. It is owned by White Pass and leased to the Yukon government.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.