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Concern about mould at schools unfounded, board says

By Nathan Taylor, Orillia Packet & Times

Despite concerns raised by councillors, a school board official says there are no problems with mould in local schools owned by the city.

Councillors Don Jenkins and Tony Madden both cited mould as a concern during Monday's council meeting while discussing a motion to order structural reviews for David H. Church Public School, Hillcrest Public School, Mount Slaven Elementary School and Orillia Central School.

"I have serious concerns about mould and things that I want to be dealt with," Jenkins said at the meeting.

Madden said he'd heard at least two, "if not all," of the schools had issues with mould.

But Mark Twardowski, manager of building and environmental services with the Simcoe County District School Board, was "not aware of any."

Before the board temporarily relocated Harriett Todd Public School students to Mount Slaven while their school was being renovated, an air-quality consultant ran tests at Mount Slaven, "and there was nothing there in terms of mould," Twardowski said.

Madden said he had heard about the mould "through the grapevine" and just wanted to be sure that precautionary or remedial steps would be taken if necessary.

Council approved a motion, introduced by Mayor Angelo Orsi, to "retain a structural engineer and building inspector to review the properties and report to this council as to the building conditions and potential for repurposing."

He immediately made clear "Central School is not up for grabs for demolishing," as it is a heritage building that should be preserved.

The schools were declared surplus by the school board, which provided the city with information on the condition of the buildings. It's important, however, for the city to have the structures assessed, Orsi said.

"A second opinion from our consultant may confirm or produce new findings," he said in an email. "This will provide us better information to make an informed decision."

Coun. Linda Murray asked if any of the work could be done in-house. Orsi said the city's building inspector could be involved, but that a structural engineer would have to be retained, as there aren't any on staff.

The city owns two of the four schools - Central School and David H. Church. Hillcrest and Mount Slaven will be in the city's hands after the closing date in November.

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