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Mould plagues new Hilltop House

Remediation to finish this week, says VCH

Expansions to the senior care building Hilltop House has yet to be complete, but the residential units have already been plagued by mould.

According to the provincial Resource Tenant and Advisory Centre, mould is major problem in B.C. given the damp climate. It is also connected with respiratory and health problems, especially among those with compromised immune systems, such as seniors.

The Hilltop House infestation developed during construction, according to Brett Crawley, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) facilities project leader.

"In my understanding, mould on wood frame buildings in British Columbia is quite common," said Crawley. "Winter is not the ideal time for construction but we have to get it done."

Exposing new construction to the elements allows mould to infect the wood used in building, he said.

"We knew that mould was going to be an issue way back in September with our rate of construction, and we knew we were not going to close the walls before winter," he said.

Mould remediation plans were drawn up months ago, said Crawley. He adds that crews were forced to wait for dry weather to start mould remediation.

"You have to wait until moisture in the building dries out before you start working on the problem. Thank God we've had some good weather in the last few weeks."

The crews should be able to close up the building by adding insulation and drywall in the next couple of weeks.

After construction is complete in Sept. 2009, the first phase of 12 residents will move into the state-of-the-art facility. Marion Biln, VCH manager of STS Home and Community Care, said the beds will accommodate the growing population of elderly in Squamish.

"We are not opening all of the beds at the same time but we will open more as need increases," Biln said.

The new building will expand the Hilltop House long-term care facility from 61 to 110 beds at a cost of $21,600,000.

Currently, there aren't enough beds in Hilltop House to accommodate the growing population of elderly, so those requiring long-term medical attention are sent to North Vancouver.

"A number of Squamish residents had to move to North Vancouver to find available beds. One of our greatest joys will be welcoming people home," Biln said.

The new facility includes perks such as four gardens, an open concept design and private rooms with transport lifts from beds to bathrooms. Biln said the expansion means a better quality of life and even longer lives for local seniors.

"The design phase was robust in terms of the amount of input we had from the residents and their families," Biln said. "The rooms are designed to make people as independent as possible."

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