Asbestos clean up at indoor arena estimated at $75,000

The Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association will be appealing to the community and looking for grants to pay for the work.

The main portion of the indoor arena has been cleared by Interior Health for use

The main portion of the indoor arena has been cleared by Interior Health for use

The price tag to fix the asbestos problem in the SASCU Memorial Indoor Arena is estimated at $75,000.

This has left the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association, who own and operate the building, making appeals to help with the cost of the remediation work.

“Yikes. That is one word you could use,” said Phil Wright, president of the association when referring to the cost estimate.

“We are going to be looking for community partners, for services groups to try and help out. We are formulating a letter to let people know of the need.”

The association relies on the building to house exhibits and vendors for the Salmon Arm Fall Fair and leases the indoor arena for a host of community events including the Canada Day Children’s Festival, indoor soccer and archery.

Wright says, the association does not have the funds to complete the asbestos removal without help from other sources.

The building was closed to public use on March 22 after consultation with Interior Health. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other respiratory diseases. Reports on the asbestos conducted since that time revealed the majority of the problem was with cinder blocks in the west end of the structure. A barrier has now been put in place to seal off the affected end of the building.

‘This means the main arena area of the facility is once again permitted to be used by the public.

“There have been a number of air quality tests done, and with those results and because the association is following all the recommendations of the architect and the asbestos remediation contractor, that open portion of the building has been deemed fit for public use,” said Juliana Gola, team leader with Interior Health’s environmental health program. “The association has been very proactive in working with our environmental health officers to make sure everything is being done properly.”

Wright says there currently is no timeline in place to get the work completed. He estimates it would take a few weeks for the remediation to be completed once the contractors begin working. It is a labour-intensive undertaking as workers in full hazardous-material gear need to drill holes into the blocks and vacuum out the asbestos. Then the whole area needs to be sealed with a special rubberized compound.

Interior Health notes there will also be ongoing air quality testing during the remediation process.

Wright is hoping to proceed quickly with the work, especially with the children’s festival and the fair approaching. He says they are looking at getting started with the work as early as the first week of June.