Extent of the asbestos at former Bateman high school may impact what the building can be used for - can the public afford the cost ?

By John Best

February 14th, 2023


Our friends at The Bay Observer did a very detailed and in-depth article on the asbestos problems at the former Bateman High school.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to share this with our readers.

We now know where the asbestos is – no idea what it is going to cost to remove it. There is a lot riding on this development.

A survey conducted for the Halton District School Board last November identified 190 locations where asbestos is present in the Robert Bateman School building. The city acquired the property last year and plan to turn it into a community centre at an estimated cost of $80 million. The consultant Arcadis prepared a number of asbestos surveys for the board’s buildings.

The report found asbestos in the following locations in the Bateman building:

Thermal insulation applied to pipe fittings in several areas of the school;

Fireproofing above ceiling assemblies in several locations of the school;

Remnant fireproofing (encapsulated and painted red) above ceiling assemblies in several locations in Corridors 1 and 2, and in the Cafeteria area and on a ceiling beam in Room 262;

Remnant fireproofing (between plaster wall and joist) above ceiling assemblies near the entrances of Rooms 32, 130A and 132B;

Remnant fireproofing along the south wall of the Drama Room

Thermal insulation applied to the pipe fittings and joints on the air handling units in Room 301; and

Thermal insulation applied to pipe fittings in Mechanical Room

A spokesperson said the board did not ask for an estimate of costs for the removal of the asbestos because they already had reached agreement with the City of Burlington to transfer the school to the city. The Bay Observer asked a city of Burlington spokesperson how much of the $80 Million that the Bateman renovations are expected to cost will be used for asbestos removal and were told that will remain confidential as the city invites tenders on the rehabilitation project. The project is slated to go to tender next month.

Main Floor plan of Bateman School. Areas marked in red are asbestos sites

Originally Lord Elgin School, the bulk of the Bateman building was constructed in 1969 with additions added in 1973 and 2004. Most buildings constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s contain asbestos. School boards are required by law to order periodic inspections to ensure that asbestos has not come loose, which poses a health hazard.

A rendering of what the school will look like when re-build is complete – getting to that point might be painful. Cost of removing the asbestos is not yet known.

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7 comments to Extent of the asbestos at former Bateman high school may impact what the building can be used for – can the public afford the cost ?

  • Caren Burcher

    What City Council calls “Citizen Engagement” never happened on any of the city’s major projects. (Skyway Arena or Bateman). In fact, the cost of the “Bateman School Project” wasn’t divulged to the public until after the October 2022 Municipal Election! Costs are in the area of 100 million for the renovations to Bateman. And now it has been announced by “the Bay Observer” this week (not by City Council), that the costs for the removal and remediation of the Asbestos at Bateman is going to be an enormous additional cost to the tax payers. Will City Council reveal the Asbestos removal costs??

    • Bob

      Where in the story does it say “that the costs for removal and remediation of the Asbestos at Bateman is going to be an enormous cost to the tax payers”?
      What the city said was “ that will remain confidential as the city invites tenders on the rehabilitation project.”

  • Phil Waggett

    There should be no surprises about the asbestos problem. All schools built in the 1970’s and many other public buildings were regularly insulated with asbestos.

  • Lynn Crosby

    This is transparency?

    Think of all that was done to Councillor Stolte – one of the tossed-out integrity commissioner complaints filed by Nisan and Galbraith (did they come up with that idea and write it themselves I often wonder?) accused Stolte, if memory serves, of telling someone in the public about the presence of asbestos, because public was posting about it and the leap was made that Stolte must have told them private information. Even our city-paid IC said nope, the asbestos has been common knowledge for years.

    We all know what happened with their other complaints, which also centred around Bateman and transparency and closed meetings. And now we learn just how much asbestos is there, from the HDSB, and still no costing from the City. Hmmmmmm.

    And isn’t phase 3 not even being costed until long after this was all approved? How about that huge tax increase, folks? The council members boasting about how great they did on the budget?

    Thank you Bay Observer and Burlington Gazette for continuing to shine a light. No other media seems to be trying to hold our elected officials and staff to account. Watch the file on the flood plain, the Molinaro development and the much-touted new OP. Is this a giant oops and could it lead to legal action? Of course if so, that will be behind closed doors too. We just pay for it all.

  • john

    And on it goes…brings back memories of the Pier.

  • Renato Velocci

    The asbestos removal is going to be very costly process, with special equipment required and and proper place for storage. Big buck!

    • Bob

      Most asbestos removal is done manually in a contained area by hand by people using proper PPE (personal protective equipment) meaning a mask, goggles and coveralls. It doesn’t take special equipment and as long as the asbestos is non-friable it doesn’t even have to be removed nor does it pose a danger.