The Department of Community and Government Services is seeking a contractor to address the growing mould issue in the Cambridge Bay arena and the work isn’t expected to be complete until January or February, if it’s feasible to do at all.
Until the issue has been dealt with, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay has decided the arena will remain closed for the sake of public safety.
In an emailed response on Thursday afternoon, a department spokesperson said CGS and the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay are trying to determine whether enough mould can be removed to allow the arena to open by January or February. While mould has existed in the facility since 2011, an assessment earlier this year showed that visible mould has increased on the bleachers and spores have become airborne.
“These areas will require remediation in order for public continued public use of facility,” the email from CGS reads.
CGS would not delve into possible health implications, deferring to the departments of Health and Environment, neither of which could be reached for immediate comment.
Mould was initially discovered in the arena in 2011, in areas not accessible to the public such as a crawlspace, two walls in the boiler room, sprinkler pipe insulation and on the upper west wall of the curling rink. The problem has intensified since then.
In February 2016, the federal government announced $4.2 million in funding for the Cambridge Bay arena for repairs, mould removal and installation of a new concrete ice surface with a thermosiphon system to extend the ice season.
The email from CGS doesn’t explain why action wasn’t taken sooner following the federal funding announcement, although it references a 2017 environmental assessment report that is still being reviewed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people’s reactions vary to different types of mould. Some people experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, and fever. Others may have skin and/or eye irritation, nasal stuffiness or may begin wheezing when in close proximity to mould. Some studies have made a link between mould exposure in children and the development of asthma.
The Cambridge Bay arena’s concrete slab/thermosiphon project is still in the design phase and construction isn’t expected until summer 2019, according to CGS.