Asbestos in Historic Sites

Another of Canada’s historic sites has fallen victim to old age and the cumulative effects of problems associated with older buildings – including asbestos.

The fifth-floor kitchen in Ottawa’s Government Conference Centre is now gone, along with the rest of the building. What made an unassuming kitchen a site of historic significance? It was the place where a deal was struck that saved the country’s constitutional accord.

The Kitchen Accord
According to Ottawa legend, future prime minister Jean Chrétien and the attorneys general, Roy McMurtry of Ontario and Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan met in the kitchen during the tense sessions that nearly ended with scuttled constitutional talks. Written on a napkin, it came to be known as the “Kitchen Accord”.

Today, the Conference Centre is undergoing renovations to prepare it to house the Senate – while the Centre Block that is usually the Senate’s home itself undergoes renovations.  The Senate requested that the kitchen be preserved as part of Canadian history, but the department of Public Works was forced to abandon those plans and demolish the room after a flood. Asbestos in the walls became a major issue.

“The flood that occurred in 2013 was caused by a broken pipe and resulted in the kitchen being dismantled,” said Public Works spokeswoman Annie Joannette.

Senators were only made aware of the change over the summer, when they went for a site visit. It’s sparked a controversy between the senators and Public Works.

Old Buildings and Old Problems
Renovations, flooding – anything that disturbs the integrity of walls and other structures in your home can also reveal old problems like asbestos.

  • Asbestos is considered safe as long as it is intact but dangerous if it has been damaged and the fibres become inhalable.

Let us help! If your home was built before the 1980’s, it almost certainly contains asbestos in one form or another. At GreenStream Environmental, our asbestos removal and asbestos remediation technicians are experienced and conscientious.

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