Mold closes Prescott arena

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - SAB­RINA BEDFORD

PRESCOTT — The Leo Boivin Com­mu­nity Cen­tre has closed its doors af­ter an “un­ac­cept­able” level of black mold was dis­cov­ered through­out the fa­cil­ity this week.

At a spe­cial meet­ing of coun­cil Thurs­day night, the town’s chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, Pierre Mercier, told coun­cil­lors the po­ten­tial mold was dis­cov­ered late last month, but lab tests only con­firmed this week the pres­ence of air­borne mold spores in var­i­ous parts of the fa­cil­ity.

“If we can’t put our em­ploy­ees at risk, then we cer­tainly can’t put the pub­lic at risk,” Mercier said of clos­ing the fa­cil­ity ear­lier this week.

“It was a dra­co­nian step, but one that we felt was re­quired.”

The arena will re­main closed for at least two weeks while it un­der­goes “phase one” of the re­me­di­a­tion process, which will es­sen­tially be a scrub-down of the build­ing, in­clud­ing sur­face clean­ing the can­vas wrap, all of­fices, dress­ing rooms, meet­ing rooms, kitchen, wash­rooms, stor­age ar­eas and duct­work with a bio­cide so­lu­tion to de­con­tam­i­nate sur­faces.

It is a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion that will hope­fully al­low the arena, built in 1967, to re-open as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“I’m not say­ing this is go­ing to work; there’s a chance it doesn’t work,” said Dan Beat­tie, the town’s di­rec­tor of pub­lic works.

“But it’s bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive.”

The is­sue, ac­cord­ing to a staff re­port, is that the work re­quired to re­store ac­cept­able air qual­ity does not ad­dress the source of the prob­lem – the pres­ence of black mold in the build­ing’s in­su­la­tion and else­where.

“It is pos­si­ble that the pres­ence of the mold in ar­eas away from the newly cleaned sur­faces could again be­come air­borne,” the re­port states.

Be­cause of this, they will re-test the air af­ter phase one to make sure it’s safe.

The mold was dis­cov­ered as a re­sult of the town’s as­set man­age­ment plan, where a full in­spec­tion of the fa­cil­ity was con­ducted since it had been five years since the last one. The mold was found on sur­faces through­out the fa­cil­ity, but it was worse in warmer ar­eas, with dress­ing room three and the ref­eree room high­lighted as par­tic­u­larly af­fected. It was also found to be air­borne, which is when the mold be­comes dan­ger­ous to hu­mans.

Mercier said they are hope­ful phase one will re­me­di­ate the prob­lem tem­po­rar­ily so they can get to the root of it in the sum­mer when the arena is not as in de­mand.

The work will be done in two phases in or­der to re­duce the im­pact to lo­cal hockey and fig­ure skat­ing clubs, he said. With­out the phased ap­proach, the arena could have been closed for at least two months, which would have ef­fec­tively put an end to the win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties hosted at the much-beloved arena.

Phase one – the scrub-down – will cost $90,000, while a sec­ond, more ex­ten­sive phase to fix the root of the prob­lem will cost up­wards of $660,000 and will be done over the sum­mer.

That work will in­clude re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing the can­vas wrap and fiber­glass in­su­la­tion within the build­ing, in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source of water in­fil­tra­tion, then hir­ing a con­trac­tor to re­pair the prob­lem once dis­cov­ered. Com­plete ad­di­tional air test­ing will be needed to de­ter­mine the ef­fec­tive­ness of the clean­ing.

Th­ese costs do not in­clude ad­di­tional costs for the re­me­di­a­tion of other build­ing de­fects and re­pairs which could amount to as much as $600,000.

The arena is a pop­u­lar win­ter fa­cil­ity and the heart of the com­mu­nity, named in hon­our of Hockey Hall of Fame in­ductee and Prescott na­tive Leo Boivin, who played for the Bos­ton Bru­ins.

The reg­u­la­tion-sized ice rink is home to lo­cal hockey teams, skat­ing clubs and hosts tour­na­ments and com­pe­ti­tions through­out the win­ter. Through the sum­mer, the site is avail­able for many com­mu­nity events.

Mayor Brett Todd said he spent much of his child­hood at the fa­cil­ity with his fa­ther be­ing one of its first man­agers.

“It’s been a sec­ond home to me since I was a lit­tle kid,” he said.

“News like this, I will say, since we got this in­for­ma­tion I haven’t slept par­tic­u­larly well the last cou­ple of days. This not how I would like to see this great Leo Boivin Com­mu­nity Cen­tre go out.

“We’re all very pos­i­tive about this. We’re very much hope­ful we can sal­vage this sea­son and give us a lit­tle bit of time.”

SAB­RINA BEDFORD/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

Prescott Mayor Brett Todd dis­cusses the black mold dis­cov­ered at the Leo Boivin Com­mu­nity Cen­tre at a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing on Thurs­day.

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