To maintain the safety of residents’ homes, the Nova Scotia government has accepted expert environmental advice to establish a surveillance and asbestos management program for 100 public housing units in Sydney. The Department of Community Services released the Phase 2 report, prepared by Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Limited, a Dartmouth firm with national affiliations, today, Dec. 20. Joan McKeough, director of the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority, informed residents on Tuesday by a letter that said, based on options identified by Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Limited, the most appropriate method of controlling the asbestos in the Whitney Pier Terrace and Ashby Terrace is to leave it undisturbed and to undertake a surveillance and asbestos management program. If any major renovations are required, the insulation will be removed. “We want to reassure residents that their homes are safe. Sealing off the attics and carrying out the surveillance and management program will ensure the continued safety of residents’ homes,” Ms. McKeough said. An asbestos management program establishes a set of procedures and processes to be followed for the life cycle of a building and to ensure the safety of the tenants, contractors and staff. Air monitoring tests were conducted on all 100 units in the Whitney Pier and Ashby Terraces with only one asbestos fibre detected. Five repeat tests on the same unit detected no traces of asbestos fibres. “Research has indicated that it takes frequent exposure to asbestos at high levels over many years to cause asbestos-related illness,” said Dr. Ann Roberts, regional medical officer of health for the Department of Health Promotion and Protection. In his report, Ron LeBlanc, president of Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Limited, said, “Our company considers surveillance with a management program to be the more appropriate option for the Whitney Pier and Ashby Terraces.” Mr. LeBlanc said, “The residents are as safe today with a good asbestos management plan, as they would be if the insulation was removed.” He also said that leaving vermiculite insulation with asbestos in place is the standard industry approach. Most jurisdictions in Canada have chosen similar options, as the enclosure and long term management plans are sufficient to meet tenant and worker safety, as well as being the least intrusive. Earlier this year, the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority discovered that the vermiculite attic insulation in the terraces in Whitney Pier and Ashby contained asbestos. The attics were sealed in the spring to prevent the insulation from entering the living space and to prevent access to the attics. Pinchin LeBlanc Environmental Limited was hired by the departments of Community Services and Transportation and Public Works to review initial work carried out in the spring by the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority and to identify options for long term management of the asbestos. The Phase 1 report, released in July, confirmed that the methods, procedures, and materials used for sealing all met or exceeded federal and provincial standards. The Phase 2 report can be found online at www.gov.ns.ca/coms/whatsnew.html . With the implementation of the asbestos management program, the housing authority can safely carry out work to make empty units available for new tenants and help reduce the current waiting list for public housing. Ms. McKeough said the housing authority will consider requests from tenants who wish to move. Transfer decisions are made by the housing authority’s board of directors, based on availability. “The housing authority and our board of directors are committed to working with residents and appreciate the residents continued cooperation with the upcoming surveillance and management program,” Ms. McKeough said. “We will continue to work with our residents to take all the necessary steps to maintain the safety of these homes.”
Nova Scotians living on low incomes will soon have increased access to affordable housing on the Eastern Shore, with an investment of $663,000 from the provincial and federal governments. LMLT Investments Limited is currently building two three-unit rowhouses and one seven-unit rowhouse on Brightside Court in Porters Lake for a total of 13 one bedroom, plus den, affordable housing units. The development will also include four affordable housing rent supplements, which means that Housing Nova Scotia will pay the property owner the difference between the established rent and 30 per cent of the tenant’s monthly income in those units. “We’re always working to help older Nova Scotians and others find safe and affordable homes,” said Eastern Shore MLA Kevin Murphy, on behalf of Kelly Regan, Minister responsible for Housing Nova Scotia. “These units will provide safe, affordable homes for many seniors, and contribute to a real, positive difference in their lives. These homes are a great addition to the Eastern Shore.” Every new unit will support aging in place, which helps older Nova Scotians stay in their homes longer. All bathrooms will have raised toilets, wall-mounted grab bars, drawered storage, and low-threshold showers with seats and handheld showerheads. The lower kitchen cabinets will also provide roll out drawer storage. Four of the units will be fully barrier-free, while the remaining will be visitable. This means someone using a wheelchair will be able to visit those units, move around, and be able to use the washroom. “Every Canadian should be able to retire in dignity. This is why we are taking action to support seniors including restoring the retirement age from 67 to 65, increasing guaranteed income supplement and old age security,” said MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook Darrell Samson, on behalf of Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “Our Government is dedicated to helping those in need, which is why we have invested in this project in Porters Lake. These new 13 units are more than just safe and affordable places to live, they are key to a better life for the residents who will call them home.” The investment in the construction of the new units is from the Affordable Housing Social Infrastructure Fund and the Affordable Housing New Rental Program, as well as a seed grant from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. All units are anticipated to be ready for occupancy this spring. Supporting access to appropriate and affordable housing is one of the actions outlined in Shift: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population, which focuses on supporting older adults and their contributions to our province. For more information on Shift, visit novascotia.ca/shift This investment also supports government’s efforts to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility with the aim of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030.