British Columbia

Fernie, B.C., to get new outdoor rink as investigation into arena tragedy continues

The East Kootenay town building an outdoor ice rink as it awaits the conclusion of several investigations into an ammonia leak that killed three men.

Fernie Memorial Arena remains closed following October ammonia leak that killed 3 men

An outdoor rink is being constructed beside the closed Fernie Memorial Arena. (Lauren Krugel/The Canadian Press)

The City of Fernie, B.C., is building an outdoor ice rink as it awaits the conclusion of several investigations and the reopening of its arena following an ammonia leak that killed three men in October.

A group of volunteers has stepped forward to build the pad for the outdoor rink, which will be located adjacent to the Fernie Aquatic Centre.

The city has already approved the funding.

Fernie Lions Club Member Chuck Shoesmith says the project got rolling after the Calgary Flames Foundation heard of the tragedy and donated an outdoor skating rink package to the city, complete with a 200-by-85 foot set of boards.

Shoesmith says residents are also grateful neighbouring Elk Valley communities have helped local hockey teams by offering ice time, but he says everyone still feels a bit lost and helpless without an arena.

It's hoped the new ice surface can be completed by Christmas.

Fernie employees Wayne Hornquist, 59, and Lloyd Smith, 52, died along with 46-year-old Alberta resident and refrigeration company worker Jason Podloski in October while attending to an ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial Arena. 

Fernie declared a seven-day state of emergency, and an evacuation order covering 95 residents of 55 homes near the arena was in effect for nearly a week.

On its website, the city posted that it was "unable to provide any information regarding the reopening of the arena."