The city’s Service Canada building is on a list of federal buildings that might contain asbestos.
However, The Daily News was not able to confirm Tuesday whether or not the cancer-causing substance was removed from 317 Seymour St. during extensive renovations that took place within the last decade.
Calls were made to MP Cathy McLeod, McLeod’s Kamloops office and SNC Lavalin, the company that manages the building, but none could provide a definite answer by deadline Tuesday.
A recently compiled list from Public Works and Government Services Canada has revealed the federal government owns 318 buildings that contain asbestos.
More than one-third of the buildings are in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, but the locations listed span the country from coast to coast to coast — including the Supreme Court of Canada, RCMP buildings, the East, Centre and West blocks of Parliament and the National Press Building in Ottawa.
The list does not include buildings owned by departments and agencies outside of Public Works, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which has identified the toxic substance in 21 Canadian-owned buildings, including official residences of diplomats in the Vatican, Beijing, Tokyo, Washington and Los Angeles. Numerous federal departments and agencies also operate buildings containing asbestos within Canada.
The government says it does not specifically track any asbestos-removal projects since the substance is only removed when required by renovations or maintenance that "results in unavoidable disturbance" of the carcinogen.
"Once the asbestos is removed from a building, an asbestos management plan is no longer required," said Public Works spokeswoman Mylene Dupere. "Therefore, PWGSC does not maintain such a list."
The government has spent millions of dollars in recent years removing the carcinogen from various buildings under renovation, including Parliament's West Block, which has been closed since 2011, forcing MPs and staffers into other buildings.
Updated on Jan. 30, the Public Works list includes 165 buildings in Ontario, 29 in Quebec, 40 in British Columbia, 18 in Manitoba, 17 in Nova Scotia, 16 in the Northwest Territories, 13 in New Brunswick, seven in Newfoundland and Labrador, four in the Yukon, four in Saskatchewan, three in Alberta, and two in Prince Edward Island.
But the department said it was not aware of any "national inventory of buildings containing hazardous material in Canada."
A recent analysis of buildings owned by the Quebec government concluded that province alone owned 289 buildings with asbestos, including about 50 in the Montreal region, Radio-Canada reported last month.
John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, an environmental group, questioned why federal buildings have not yet been cleaned up, noting that asbestos removal has been going on for about 30 years. He said the government needs to improve its record-keeping.
"They should know exactly where the asbestos is and where it's removed," Bennett said.
"There should definitely be a program to pro-actively remove it. The problem is usually it gets airborne in a renovation or when it's disturbed, but unless you're inspecting it and double-checking, you don't know that. You don't know whether it's been airborne."
THE DAILY NEWS/ THE CANADIAN PRESS