Update and impact of construction activities at the Raymond Building
August 30, 2023 – Update and impact of construction activities at the Raymond Building
In June, we wrote to inform you that some of the work related to the major renovation project underway at the Raymond Building had restarted, mainly exterior work, including the replacement of the roof.
As this work progressed in recent weeks, McGill’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) conducted an inspection of the ceiling spaces above the 4th-floor classrooms in the Raymond Building related to the upcoming roofing work. The plaster material in the cavity between the roof and the ceiling of classrooms R4-045, R4-046/48 and R4-047 contains asbestos and some plaster debris was found in this cavity above two of these classrooms. As mentioned in Dean Geitmann’s message on Monday, August 28, the findings from this inspection have led us to close classrooms R4-045, R4-046/48 and R4-047. The classrooms will possibly remain closed for the duration of the semester as the roof work, which cannot be postponed, may disturb the plaster further and potentially the ceiling.
We have been working actively with the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to identify alternative spaces as soon as possible.
We deeply regret the many disruptions related to construction work that the Macdonald community has experienced and understand the impact it has had on teaching and research activities. We take your health and safety very seriously and will continue to deploy all necessary efforts to maintain a safe learning and work environment for all.
Air test results to date have met Quebec safety standards
Asbestos was used widely in the construction of buildings up until the 1990s. According to the Government of Quebec, “materials that contain asbestos and are in good condition do not release fibres into the air and are generally safe.” The damage to the plaster caused by the roofing work could potentially lead to the release of asbestos fibers.
Air tests are the primary means used by the government of Quebec to monitor workplace safety when it comes to asbestos. We have conducted weekly air testing in more than 35 areas throughout Macdonald-Stewart, Barton and Raymond since March 2023. This testing continues and you may notice the pumps that are used for the air tests set up in common areas during weekly testing.
All tests have returned results under the regulatory threshold (and McGill’s more stringent threshold), before and after March 2023. Should any test result fall short of our standards (more information on testing), the areas in question will be assessed, closed, cleaned and re-tested.
Basement of Octagon & resumption of indoor construction work
In our June message, we announced that we hoped to be able to restore access to the labs and classroom located at the basement level of the Octagon in the Raymond Building as of September. At the moment, access has been delayed due to continuing discussions with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) and the contractor assigned to the project to confirm that there has been no unsafe release of asbestos fibers on the construction site and adjacent areas. The contractor will then be able to set up the emergency egress that is required to reopen the spaces. Indoor construction can also resume. We are working on providing access to the users of these spaces as soon as possible so they can at least retrieve their work material in the meantime.
The increased safety protocols put in place last winter due to the detection of asbestos-containing dust outside of the construction zone are being maintained. The construction site has been sealed completely to isolate it from spaces occupied by McGill faculty, students and staff. Facilities Management and Ancillary Services (FMAS) has also hired a full-time construction health and safety officer to undertake regular inspections of the site and verify compliance with all safety protocols.
As also mentioned in our June message, we are renovating the library archive room (B1-019) in the Barton Building, one of the rooms where asbestos-containing dust was discovered last winter, so as to remove some of the asbestos-containing materials. All necessary safety protocols are in place. This work should be completed in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the construction of the new greenhouse continues next to the Raymond Building. We expect this project to be substantially completed at the end of 2023.
For more information
If you have a concern related to the presence of dust in your workspace that was not present the day before, or of debris or damaged building materials, you can call the Facilities Call Centre (FCC) at 514-398-4555.
For questions related to any construction project, you may contact Acting Building Director youssef.chebli [at] mcgill.ca (Youssef Chebli), who will connect with the relevant project team.
Associate Vice-Principal, Facilities Management and Ancillary Services