Report flagged potential problems with Sylvan Lake arena

An engineering report obtained by CBC News says the old arena in Sylvan Lake that collapsed early Monday morning had several years left of useful life, but only if a snow removal program continued.

Roof of old arena collapsed early Monday morning

The roof collapsed on the old Sylvan Lake arena early this morning. An employee in the building at the time escaped unharmed. (Joanne Gaudet/Town of Sylvan Lake)

An engineering report obtained by CBC News says the old arena in Sylvan Lake that collapsed early Monday morning had several years left of useful life, but only if there was no more than 12 inches of snow on the roof. 

The March 2012 forensic structural assessment was prepared for the town of Sylvan Lake by Cognidyn Engineering and Design.

The report lists work that should be performed including repairs and new roofing on one section of the building, repairs to most of the fascias and wood eaves, and a protective weather barrier on the north wall. 

"If these items are addressed, and a roof snow removal program is implemented to ensure no more than say 12" of snow is present, we would suggest the useful life (from a structural point of view) of this facility is 7 to 10 years. Mechanical issues may dictate otherwise however," the report states. 

“Given the evidence at hand, we are of the opinion that this facility has about 2-3 years left of useful life remaining if no supplemental maintenance work is invested — conditional of course on the noted snow removal program.”

The same report shows that the curling rink — which is slated to close this spring — was a greater concern.

“The roof is likely to collapse under normal design conditions,” the report states but adds that dedicated snow removal could keep it going for another year or two.

The roof of the building collapsed around 1 a.m. Monday. An employee who was flooding the rink was able to escape unharmed.

Curling rink bigger concern 

Mayor Sean McIntyre says that there was a snow removal program in place for the curling rink as it was a greater safety concern. He denies that the town was negligent in not keeping up snow removal on the arena roof. 

"I wouldn't say negligence because again there are plans and procedures in place to conduct snow removal on that facility and others throughout the community," he said. 

"Our staff was busy clearing the curling rink as well as the streets around town. It was on the list...there were plans to conduct snow removal on that building and it just so happens that it was not done prior to the collapse and it certainly looks like the snow load had a factor to play in the collapse."

Ron Lebsack, the director of community services for Sylvan Lake, said snow was set to be removed from the arena roof this week. No removal plan had been implemented because it was determined there was no need. 

"We saw no desire or need to do that over the last year," he said. 

"The arena roof never did show signs of needing snow removal through our inspections. So we do visual inspections and we do physical inspections. And we had done visual inspections this past week after the windstorm on Wednesday."

The report prepared by Cognidyn Engineering the arena could last another seven to ten years if minor maintenance work was completed and snow was removed.

Spending $250,000 to $300,000 on the building envelope could add another five years of useful life to the structure.

The arena sustained major structural damage and will have to be demolished.

A new leisure centre is being planned with construction starting by 2016. 

Sylvan Lake town council will discuss the arena collapse at a meeting on Tuesday night. 


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the forensic report was done in March 2013. The report was actually completed in March 2012. We have corrected the error in the story.
    Jan 21, 2014 2:50 PM MT


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