Heritage Group Fights Province – Along with Asbestos, Mould

A heritage group in Southern Ontario just outside the GTA is getting the cold shoulder from the province when it asked to view a historic property.

The Hamilton, Ontario group – the city’s municipal heritage committee – requested to view Century Manor, an ornate three-storey mansion that was once home to the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane. One of the city’s oldest buildings, it’s a prime example of Victorian Gothic architecture. When the group wrote to the IO (Infrastructure Ontario) they received this in a written reply:

“Tours of vacant government owned buildings are only provided as part of the sales and marketing of the property and with specific consideration to the current conditions of the building.” The official goes on to mention “potential health and safety” as the reason, including the “suspected presence” of mould, asbestos and flaking lead paint.

Some of the heritage committee members are convinced the provincial landlord intends to practice so-called “demolition by neglect” – meaning they intend to do nothing until the property is beyond redemption and then tear it down.

Neglect and Older Buildings
We don’t know if that’s what the province really intends or not in this case – but it’s a certainty that neglect alone of an older building is a sure-fire way to lead to its eventual demise. It’s a situation we’re seeing more and more of on the public front – this is just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of publicly owned buildings with problems like mould and leftover asbestos.

Of course, it’s not only publicly owned buildings that are under the gun, so to speak. Many people love older buildings and if you’re thinking about buying that DIY fixer-upper with a view to lovingly restoring it to its former glory, there are some caveats you should take into account.

  • Asbestos: virtually all buildings constructed before the 1980’s contain asbestos in one form or another. Obvious things like vermiculite insulation may have been dealt with because of consumer awareness but asbestos containing materials (or ACM) may appear anywhere literally from floor to ceiling. While they’re still intact they’re considered safe but asbestos removal is your only permanent solution.
  • Mould: wherever there is lingering moisture, there is the potential for mould, which can begin to form within 48 hours. All it takes is a pinhole leak in plumbing in an area that no one sees and voila, mould takes hold. If you’re scouting properties there are some key things to keep in mind
    • Maintenance – has the property been properly maintained? Old windows, roof materials, leaky siding – all of these can contribute to lingering moisture.
    • Follow your nose – you may not see mould inside of walls or floors or under the carpet, but if it’s there, you’ll likely be able to smell that telltale musty odour.

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Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414. You’ll be glad you did.