Halifax has told the tenants of the city-owned Khyber building they have to leave by April 1 because there's asbestos in the walls, but not all tenants are concerned.
In December, the Halifax Regional Municipality had the building assessed and found the plaster raised "safety concerns related to the presence of asbestos and lead."
In February, the municipality gave notice to vacate the building due to those health concerns.
The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia is one of the Khyber's tenants and said it doesn’t think the city's solution is reasonable. It wants to stay in its heritage home.
Linda Forbes, president of the Heritage Trust, said the society knows about the asbestos, but isn't too concerned.
"We're comfortable that the areas where we're working don't have active asbestos — asbestos isn't being released into the air," she said.
Two out of 38 samples taken in the Khyber showed asbestos. Forbes said affected areas could be patched over, or restricted.
Coun. Waye Mason said that may not be realistic.
"An entire wall may not have asbestos, but that one patch that's about to fail and is dropping dust into the air — that might have been done at a time when there was asbestos mixed in with the plaster," he said.
Mason said renovations that might send asbestos into the air can't take place if tenants are still inside. Forbes said the public should not automatically assume that old buildings are dangerous.
"We find asbestos in buildings in the 80s, buildings in the 50s,” she said.
Mason said there's a different standard for this building.
"The level of risk that we can accept in a public building that has people coming in and out of it is really, really different from what someone might accept in their home," he said.
Risk or not, the Heritage Trust says it will move out by April 1.