Alberta infrastructure bends and buckles under heat wave

Humans and animals aren't the only ones suffering from the heat in Alberta. It's also having an impact on infrastructure.

‘Must be hot when the picnic tables are melting’

Shelly Clauson snapped this photo in Clairmont, Alta. She believes the benches are made of some sort of composite plastic material that warped due to the heat. (Submitted by Shelly Clauson)

The heat is taking a toll on infrastructure.

In Edmonton, several photos posted to social media show the sidewalks buckling in some areas and the damage is being attributed to the extreme heat blanketing Western Canada.

Jon Dziadyk, councillor for Ward tastawiyiniwak (formerly Ward 3), shared a photo on Facebook of a section of sidewalk that was cracked and bent at an unusual angle.

This sidewalk that buckled under the heat of the sun caught the attention of Ward 3 Coun. Jon Dziadyk. (Jon Dziadyk/Facebook)

In a statement, he calls on the city to take action.

"Core services should be the priority for the city," Dziadyk wrote. "Just as potholes are caused by the cold, the heat is impacting our infrastructure. The city needs to be nimble and quick to address these issues."

In an email to CBC News, the city acknowledged the problem.

"The extreme heat caused this sidewalk and other sidewalks in the city to buckle or heave," wrote Derek Logan, a spokesperson for parks and road services.

"Concrete expands with temperature, and in extreme heat the expansion is larger. When expansion reduces the space between slabs or joints of a sidewalk, buckling can occur."

Logan noted it is not typically a problem given Edmonton's cooler climate and city workers are dealing with the issue. 

"This week, at least 57 city sidewalks were found to have buckled or heaved due to the heat," he wrote.

"In response, city crews have been proactively inspecting sidewalks throughout Edmonton and responding to all 311 notifications.

"When signs of buckling were found, crews placed signs with flashing amber lights to alert people of the uneven concrete. The area would then be repaired by digging out the heave, forming or pouring concrete in the spot and replacing the impacted sidewalk panels. We prioritized heaves for repairs based on the risk they present to the public." 

A spokeperson for the City of Edmonton says at least 57 city sidewalks have buckled or heaved due to the recent heat. (CBC News)

Edmonton isn't the only place feeling the heat.

In Clairmont, just north of Grande Prairie, Shelly Clauson spotted an unusual sight.

"We were turning around in the parking lot at the seniors hall there, and my sister Candy pointed out, she said, 'It must be hot when the picnic tables are melting,'" Clauson said.

"I turned around and I looked and the benches were all deformed, so I had to get a picture."

13-year-old Lynlee Clauson tests out the now curved picnic table benches in Clairmont, Alta. (Submitted by Shelly Clauson)

Clauson believes the benches are made of some sort of composite plastic material that failed to maintain structural integrity under the soaring temperatures.

"I was pretty shocked. I didn't think those things could even do that," she said. "I've also seen people have posted pictures of their windows shattering in their house."

Clauson said it's been so hot in the region she's had to install some additional infrastructure of her own at home to try to keep cool.

"My house was absolutely boiling so we threw some tinfoil up on the windows," she said.

Unfortunately it did not achieve the desired goal.

"We ended up coming in to Grande Prairie to stay at my sister's because my daughter ended up with heat exhaustion from sitting on the couch in our living room. Very grateful for family that lets me stay in their air-conditioned houses." 

Relief is on the way for people and infrastructure. Environment Canada says more typical temperatures for this time of year should return on Sunday.