By Ryan McGreal
Published December 18, 2012
this blog entry has been updated
This should be interesting. Gary Santucci just sent an email to Dr Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, asking her to investigate whether students held at Sanford School in 2010 were exposed to airborne contaminants in the building.
Recently, officials with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) refused to allow prospective tenants to enter Sanford School, citing concerns about airborne contaminants. However, as recently as 2010 the school was accommodating students whose schools were under construction.
Dr Richardson replied to advise Santucci that Matt Lawson, manager of the City's Health Hazards Program, will investigate the issue.
RTH contacted the school board for comment, but has not yet received a reply.
Here is the text of Santucci's email:
In a recent conversation with Chair Tim Simmons of Ward 3, he informed that access to Sanford Avenue School was restricted to persons wearing protective suits and masks due to airborne contaminants. I had requested access so that a business case could be made for the adaptive re-use of Sanford School.
During last evening's meeting of the committee of the whole for the Board of Education, it was confirmed that Sanford Avenue School was used by the Board as a holding school for students while their own schools were being constructed as recently as 2010.
Based on Tim Simmons' remarks to me, I am concerned that The HWDSB may have exposed students to these airborne contaminants over an extended period. As the Officer of Health for the City of Hamilton, I respectfully request that you begin an investigation into this matter.
Last night, the Board of Trustees voted to proceed with the planned demolition of the school, despite the fact that several developers have expressed interest in buying it. The school closed in 2001 and was declared surplus in 2003.
The Board offered the building to the City of Hamilton and other institutional agencies in 2005, but apparently has never offered it for sale to private buyers. Investors who tried to express interest in the building were told it was not for sale.
Update: HWDSB Chair Tim Simmons has replied with the following statement:
As we do with all our schools, Sanford Avenue received regular maintenance to ensure the continued safety of all staff and students while it was in use. Sanford was last used as a school building in the 2009/2010 academic year. The City of Hamilton leased the gym in 2011. The building was finally closed to all use and decommissioned in September 2011.
On November 1, 2012, a site visit was conducted at Sanford. At that time, the building was noted to have deteriorated rapidly since its closure. Given the poor condition of the building, an environmental report recommended that all personnel entering the facility wear personnel protective equipment.
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