Students at Vanier Collegiate who use the industrial arts (IA) area won’t have to worry about breathing issues much longer since the school division is upgrading the area’s dust collection system.
Replacing the system has been on the radar of Holy Trinity Catholic School Division since 2016 when a review indicated it would cost $250,000 to $300,000 to upgrade the dust collection infrastructure. Another review in 2020 revealed “an immediate” need to renovate the school’s IA area.
A qualified engineer conducted a site review and found several code violations with the dust collector that the school was not following, a board report explained.
Some violations included having combustible and flammable materials within 15 metres of the welding area; the dust collector lacking an exterior-directed explosion vent; no adequate damper return air to the IA area; the collector fan assembly lacking a shut-off in case of a fire or explosion; lack of relief valves; and the unit not having a spark detection or extinguishing system.
The division’s buildings department was forced to upgrade several life safety, electrical and mechanical systems based on the engineer’s review, the report continued.
Some changes included adding extra fire sprinklers to the entire area; updating fire alarms and directional signs; enhancing lighting, panels, breakers and wiring; installing a 10-ton exterior heat/cool unit with new or relocated ducting; and removing and repurposing the welding area.
The buildings department created a revised budget of $441,331 — the money came from Holy Trinity’s preventative maintenance and renewal (PMR) account — based on the new code requirements and ability to improve the learning environment and air quality for the IA lab and adjacent art and music areas. The updated budget also accounted for 19 existing pieces of equipment and two new items.
Seven contractors submitted bids, with the highest bid being $530,000 and the lowest bid — which was accepted — of $437,000, said the report. The division awarded the contract to Christie Mechanical on May 26, which began working on the project on June 30 and planned to finish by Oct. 6.
“Unfortunately, supply chain issues — which every project and contract are experiencing — hit our project, delaying the two major pieces of the project: the dust collector and the RTU (rooftop unit),” the report continued.
The buildings department expected the final electrical hookups and concrete slab to be completed by the first week of November, with the RTU to be finished by Nov. 5 and the dust collector by Nov. 9.
“We anticipate only minor deficiencies that should not disrupt classes or cause delay,” stated the report.
Matt Heisler, facilities manager with Holy Trinity, told the Express that the dust collector system is operational while some piping still needs to be connected. The division expects to have the project officially completed by early December.
“(We’re) depending upon obviously supply chain issues at this point. But other than that, it was quite successful and (we’re) very happy to have it,” he added.
The board report added that the project’s total cost — including professional fees — is estimated to be $522,121.
The next Holy Trinity board of education meeting is Monday, Dec. 13.