Mould, asbestos a wrench in centre plans

No one is going to be able to use Lake Cowichan’s newly christened Kasapi Centre (otherwise known as “the old Logger Hut”) for a while yet,

The Kasapi Centre may need fairly extensive renovations before it is useable.

The Kasapi Centre may need fairly extensive renovations before it is useable.

No one is going to be able to use Lake Cowichan’s newly christened Kasapi Centre (otherwise known as “the old Logger Hut”) for a while yet, town council discovered Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Several groups, including the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, were hopeful that they could get space for programs in the main street location just up the street from the municipal hall.

Councillors, too, were looking forward to discussing the future of this new town asset at their parks and recreation committee meeting when Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez dropped a bombshell.

A 15-foot stretch of mould as well as asbestos had been discovered in a cursory inspection of the building, Fernandez told the meeting, adding that even that bit of news meant the building was plainly not ready for use.

“You need a full risk assessment before you allow the public in,” he said.

Coun. Tim McGonigle asked if councillors could take a quick tour to see for themselves what the issues might be and Mayor Ross Forrest added that it was likely that there would be asbestos in any building of that vintage.

The risk from the asbestos usually comes when it is broken into for renovation and removal, he said.

If left alone, asbestos is not an immediate health hazard.

Fernandez was still firm on the need for caution, and the impossibility of allowing any group to use the structure for some time yet.

“‘Visible mould in the building’ was what they said. It’s critical that we do remedial work,” he told councillors.

Coun. Bob Day suggested that getting some heat into the building as soon as possible might help the mould problem.

Both McGonigle and Forrest were also firm that council at least should walk through and see the state of the building.

“Then we can decide if it’s financially feasible to go ahead,” McGonigle said.