University continues assessment of residences affected by mould

Safety and Risk Services said that “Louis Riel will be phased out” as alternative housing options are created.

The university has begun relocating residents of the Louis Riel residence building after concerns regarding mould in residence were raised once again at the SFSS Council meeting late last year.

The living condition of Louis Riel building has been persistent problem, and remains a constant topic of discussion for the SFSS Advocacy Committee.

Safety and Risk Services (SRS) at SFU told The Peak that they have been working on improving the Louis Riel building since they first started to receive complaints from students and staff.

The department is using “dynamic assessment” to address the problem promptly.

According to Terry Waterhouse, SRS Chief Safety Officer, the dynamic assessment process involves relocation of the occupants in the damaged unit as staff undergo assessment of each suite to ensure that no one is in a compromised space.

So far, SRS has relocated 35 residents in Louis Riel to other suites that are not in damaged condition.

Some students relocated themselves by finding off-campus housing, while others have moved to different units within the same building.

However, Devon Cass, coordinating and external relations officer for the Graduate Student Society (GSS), claimed that there are more “important health concerns for those living in a residence with so much mould, even if some suites have been shut down.

“Due to the mould, there are fewer and fewer places graduate students can live on campus,” continued Cass. “This is a substantial problem for incoming students who are not familiar with Burnaby and Vancouver.”

One of the major sources of mould in the building is water accumulation, according to Waterhouse. This usually results from open windows during rain, leaks from the building perimeter, and leaky pipes.

SRS has relocated 35 residents in Louis Riel to other suites so far.

Aside from water accumulation, another potential cause of the problem is the buildup of condensation in units that are not fully ventilated.

“Having a very long shower, cooking, and boiling water in a unit that has poor ventilating quality can actually lead to mould accumulations,” said Waterhouse. The mould in Louis Riel building could have been due to a variety of causes of moisture buildup.

The parts of the building that need improvement will be determined after the formal assessment has been issued, explained Waterhouse.

“We have completed the assessments for each of the rooms, just putting together the final report on it now, and we are expecting to receive that formally in about two weeks,” he said.

With the report that is coming within two weeks, SRS will make a decision about what to do with the entire building, instead of looking at individual units.

At that point, SRS and the university administration will decide whether they should vacate the entire building or not. The completion of repair should be expected when the formal assessment is finalized.

In the end, Waterhouse said, “Louis Riel will be phased out as student residence as other facilities are developed, regardless of anything else.”

Meanwhile, SRS has been communicating directly with the students and staff who have been affected to address concerns.

“We have been responding in a very thorough way,” he assured, “but if there are outstanding concerns for students living in the Louis Riel, [. . .] they should definitely tell residence and housing.”