Some residents of a Penticton apartment building are still living with a potentially fatal load of pigeon poop above their heads, despite an employee of the property owner saying the cleanup work would be underway by now.
Interior Health has given Sandy Creek Properties until Sept. 3 to clean up the mess in the ceiling above the fourth-floor hallway of the 52-unit King’s Court building at 66 Duncan Ave. W. across from Safeway.
Sandy Creek Properties administrator Trina Murray told The Herald on July 29: “We’ve actually had that contract out for quite some time, and I believe (the work) is starting next week.”
That week came and went with no action, and Murray told The Herald on Tuesday she was misquoted and actually said the work would begin in “two or three weeks.”
But, when pressed, she was unable to provide an actual start date, claiming the person overseeing the job was not available.
King’s Court residents, she continued, have been informed by letter the job would be complete by Sept. 3, and Sandy Creek intends to meet that deadline.
“They expect us to jump and drop everything,” Murray said of the tenants.
“I think they’re just being a little impatient.”
However, a fourth-resident told The Herald previously he had been complaining about the problem for three years with no results. And it wasn’t until Interior Health became involved, he said, that Sandy Creek committed to doing something.
Following a July 15 inspection, Interior Health environmental health officer Stephanie Carver put her troubling findings in a letter to Sandy Creek Properties.
“We observed large accumulations of pigeon guano in the ceiling tiles above the fourth floor east-west hallway. The accumulation of guano was dry, indicating accumulation has occurred over time,” Carver wrote.
“A substantial amount fell out when one ceiling tiles was lifted up and it was evident the hallway ceiling tiles are full of guano and other roosting material. There were also visible signs of waste dripping down the sides of the ceiling into the hallway above residents’ doors.”
Carver went on to note pigeon poop carries diseases such as cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, candidiasis and encephalitis, “which can be fatal to the elderly population.”
“The amount of guano that was observed is quite significant and is considered a health hazard. Our biological concerns at this point are the many disease that are found in guano that can easily spread to the occupants as well as the amount of flies that are being attracted to the area,” she added.
Despite those concerns, Interior Health doesn’t believe anyone is immediately at risk.
“The guano is not in the apartment living spaces and does not currently present an imminent health risk. It will require a fair bit of work to address the issues which have built up over time, so we have given the property owner until Sept. 3 to fix the problem,” Jennifer Jacobsen, interim manager for environmental management, said in a statement previously.
“If it is not addressed by that time, IH can and will take additional steps, including an order under the Public Health Act and potential violation tickets. From a public health perspective, this is a problem that does need to be fixed.”