Ed­son Rec Com­plex : An­other twist in the tale

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - June McInnes The McLeod River Post

The saga of the Ed­son Rec Com­plex has been long and com­pli­cated, sold then not sold, safe then not safe then safe again, worth around $2-$3 mil­lion then just a dol­lar with no tak­ers. More re­cently The Town of Ed­son voted to take a pro­posal to Yel­low­head County to de­mol­ish the whole kit and ka­boo­dle in the fall for a cost, to be shared with the County, for around a mil­lion dol­lars.

The saga of the Ed­son Rec Com­plex has been long and com­pli­cated, sold then not sold, safe then not safe then safe again, worth around $2-$3 mil­lion then just a dol­lar with no tak­ers. More re­cently The Town of Ed­son voted to take a pro­posal to Yel­low­head County to de­mol­ish the whole kit and ka­boo­dle in the fall for a cost, to be shared with the County, for around a mil­lion dol­lars.

There have al­ways been more ques­tions than an­swers on this topic. We have al­ways been con­cerned about the as­bestos ex­po­sure to work­ers and mem­bers of the pub­lic, in­clud­ing our­selves and our fam­ily.

We sent an­other list of ques­tions to Ed­son Mayor Kevin Za­hara in the hope of some trans­parency on the is­sue. We re­ceived a state­ment from Town of Ed­son com­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tor, Steve Bethge, which reads as fol­lows, “As we’ve stated pre­vi­ously, we’ve been work­ing close through the en­tire process with both OH&S and Al­berta Health Ser­vices. As I’m sure you can imag­ine, their guide­lines/re­quire­ments are very strin­gent. The fa­cil­ity has been thor­oughly re­viewed by Pub­lic Health and it has been deemed safe with no re­quire­ments for no­ti­fi­ca­tion. There are no rel­e­vant health con­cerns as­so­ci­ated with the Re­cre­ation Com­plex. You men­tioned you’re in touch with both or­ga­ni­za­tions and they may be able to pro­vide you with more de­tails as the sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts.”

No­ti­fi­ca­tion is one thing, safe is an­other. The Cana­dian Union of Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees (CUPE) has a very in­for­ma­tive as­bestos fact sheet (https://cupe.ca/fact-sheet-as­bestos) , which CUPE has kindly al­lowed us to quote ex­tracts from. We en­cour­age read­ers to read the sheet and form their own opin­ions. We are not scare mon­ger­ing, sim­ply telling it how it is. This is per­haps one of the more telling parts of the CUPE fact sheet, “Em­ploy­ers may make the claim that be­cause a work­place fol­lows gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions, work­ers have noth­ing to worry about. This is false. Gov­ern­ment stan­dards for as­bestos ex­po­sure are in­ad­e­quate and will not pro­tect work­ers from get­ting can­cer. The stan­dards were de­signed to pro­tect as­bestos fac­tory work­ers against get­ting as­besto­sis, not to pro­tect CUPE mem­bers from get­ting can­cer. RE­MEM­BER, LE­GAL DOES NOT MEAN SAFE.”

As Bethge men­tions in his state­ment we have con­tacted Al­berta Health Ser­vices (AHS) and the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety (OH&S). We re­ceived the fol­low­ing state­ment from AHS, “Al­berta Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety (OHS) has com­pleted as­bestos abate­ment pro­ce­dures at the Ed­son and District Re­cre­ation Com­plex. All ex­posed as­bestos has been re­moved, con­tained and/or abated in ac­cor­dance with the Al­berta As­bestos Abate­ment Man­ual. AHS En­vi­ron­men­tal Pub­lic Health has been work­ing with OHS and the Town of Ed­son through­out this process and can con­firm that, with ex­cep­tion of the locker rooms, as of May 31, the fa­cil­ity is safe for pub­lic use.

AHS is cur­rently as­sess­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions made by OHS re­gard­ing safe ac­cess to per­sonal be­long­ings in the locker rooms. The locker room area, lo­cated on the ground floor of the north side of the re­cre­ation com­plex, re­mains closed to the pub­lic. More in­for­ma­tion about this as­sess­ment and rec­om­men­da­tions will be shared when it is avail­able.

The build­ing is oper­at­ing safely and the risk of as­bestos ex­po­sure to the gen­eral pub­lic is low. How­ever, if any­one has con­cerns about as­bestos ex­po­sure, they are en­cour­aged to call Health Link 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free at 811, to speak to a reg­is­tered nurse. Res­i­dents may also speak with their fam­ily physi­cian or lo­cal care provider.”

We have spo­ken to OH&S look­ing for a state­ment, which they have ex­plained that they are un­able to do un­less we put in an of­fi­cial Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest via the FOIP process. This we are con­sid­er­ing. It would be quicker how­ever, if the Town of Ed­son could pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion be­fore it comes out any­way. Speak­ing of which, at the Yel­low­head County meet­ing on June 26, coun­cil notes say, “Coun­cil dis­cussed the Ed­son and District Re­cre­ation Com­plex, not­ing that a de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish the com­plex would be pre­ma­ture. Coun­cil moved to ob­tain more de­tails from the town of Ed­son, or to get an in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment of the fa­cil­ity to see the true costs to re­pur­pose the fa­cil­ity for the golf club and other user groups such as the theatre or other ser­vice clubs.”

We un­der­stand the dis­cus­sion on the mat­ter was ro­bust. It is not un­rea­son­able for tax­pay­ers and the County to be given the process and mech­a­nism as to how a $2-$3 mil­lion as­set can in the space of just a few months can be­come a $1 mil­lion li­a­bil­ity. The ques­tions as to the pro­cesses of how the as­bestos was ex­posed, missed un­til an OH&S in­spec­tion picked it up and the man­ner of the ex­po­sure re­mains a ques­tion of con­science for The Town of Ed­son. We sin­cerely hope that the lack of in­for­ma­tion is not a mech­a­nism to re­duce or avoid li­a­bil­ity. We make no apolo­gies for bring­ing this sub­ject up again.

File photo The McLeod River Post

File photo The McLeod River Post

The Town of Ed­son voted to take a pro­posal to Yel­low­head County to de­mol­ish the whole kit and ka­boo­dle in the fall for a cost, to be shared with the County, for around a mil­lion dol­lars.

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