The reason for those workers in white hazmat suits at a house on the corner of Nicola Street and Fourth Avenue last week?
They were brought in to rectify a requirement overlooked during a paint job.
Kelson Group, the Kamloops-based property management and development company that owns the house, was required to clean up lead paint disturbed by a contractor it hired to paint the exterior of the aging home.
After work had already begun, WorkSafe BC alerted the company that it needed to test the paint for lead — a requirement Kelson Group vice-president Kelly Fawcett said the company wasn’t aware of before starting the touch-up work on both the corner house and the home next to it.
Fawcett said work was stopped immediately, tests came back positive and the lead chips were subsequently cleaned with high-efficiency vacuums.
Cleanup of paint chips at the neighbouring house was scheduled for Monday, Fawcett said.
WorkSafe BC initially got involved in August while investigating the contractor for not following proper fall procedures.
Fawcett said the paint job was ordered to spruce up the homes.
“We were hoping to do a quick little paint job on them and I guess we didn’t go about doing it right,” Fawcett said.
“We don’t want the neighbourhood to look terrible even though they [homes] are going to be [demolished]. We do try to maintain our properties to a high level.”
The painting, however, isn’t part of the development plans Kelson Group has for the properties it owns in that area.
In 2017, Kelson Group purchased two 10-storey apartment buildings — The Pines on the southeast corner of Battle Street and Fourth Avenue and The Oaks on the southwest corner of Battle Street and Fourth Avenue — and parcels of land on Nicola Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Multi-family rental units will rise on those parcels of land.
The company also purchased vacant lots on the southeast corner of St. Paul Street and Fifth Avenue, which it has since sold to the city for affordable-housing use.
When the time comes for demolition of the Kelson-owned homes along the north side of Nicola Street — something Fawcett pegged as being three to six years away — the buildings will need to undergo lead paint and asbestos abatement.
The company had plans to repaint other homes it owns in the area, but that work has been postponed.
According to documents on WorkSafeBC’s website, removing lead paint without the proper controls can create lead dust that, if inhaled or ingested, can lead to a number of health effects, including weakness, headaches, stomach cramps, muscle pain and memory loss.