As the town awaits word of remaining funding needed to tear down and then redevelop the old Rainy Lake Hotel site, officials are taking steps in anticipation of the demolition process.
Accompanied by firefighters, Chief Building Official Travis Rob was on scene last Wednesday to walk through the vacant building, wearing a hazmat suit and respirator, and take samples of building materials.
“It’s on a preliminary level,” Rob said. “We’re taking some asbestos samples, samples for lead paint.
“And essentially why we’re doing that is to get a feel for what is in there for those designated substances under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“It’s something we’re going to have to do before we can demolish it anyway, so we’re kind of getting a feel for that—trying to get a more quantifiable idea of what we’re dealing with,” he reasoned.
Rob explained that designated substances under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, such as asbestos, lead, and silica, need to be identified and included in a tender for any construction project or, in this case, a demolition project.
As previously reported, the town already has received $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. to level the old hotel and redevelop the site into a market square.
But it still is awaiting approval from FedNor for the $655,000 requested to make the project a reality.
“This is a small step that we can do that will have to be done anyway,” Rob reiterated.
“But it gets us on the way so that when we do, hopefully, hear about that funding, we will already have some simple things, small things, taken care of.”
As far as the current condition of the old hotel, which closed its doors in 2005, Rob said “it’s very wet.”
There’s frozen standing water in the bar, the kitchen was wet, the stairs going from the main stairs down into the basement were covered in ice all the way, and the main level of the basement floor was ice-covered.
The ballroom is flooded.
Certain areas of the upper floors are also wet due to leaking roofs.
That said, Rob said he prefers touring the site when it is cold.
“I don’t like going in when it’s warm out because then organic things are growing,” he explained.
“Right now, everything’s pretty dormant and frozen.
“At the time, we’re still taking all of the precautions—hazmat suits, respirators, all of the health and safety stuff—to make sure we’re safe when we go in there,” Rob added.