The Chestermere Regional Recreation Center is slated to close its doors indefinitely on Friday due to snowfall concerns that could damage parts of the roof above one of the two ice rinks in the center. Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Brendan Miller / Postmedia
Heavy snow forecast for this weekend has prompted plans to close the Chestermere Recreation Center over fears the facility's roof could collapse.
Rocky View County, which owns the building in the city just east of Calgary, said it was shutting down the facility Friday at 5 p.m. after recent structural analysis indicated that part of the building's roof was vulnerable to a heavy load of snow.
The concern is that one rink's structural shortcomings and a damaged concrete floor could compromise the entire building, the county said.
Not sitting well with the building's operators who say an engineering report they commissioned found the structure to be safe and that shutting it down would badly affect sports and other programs.
"It completely broadsided us, totally puzzling," said Derek From, a director of the Chestermere Regional Community Association.
He said an engineering analysis conducted last summer indicated the roof of the building's 13-year-old red rink is safe, but it requires monitoring and removal of heavier snow loads.
“We informed (Rocky View) back in the summer, they misread the report. . . very frustrating. ”
He said no reason to think that one rink's roof would endanger the rest of the structure.
The closure will immediately affect 700 minor hockey players who call the facility home, along with 200 other programs – from curling to martial arts and theme expos.
"So incredibly reckless about timing, where will all these kids go?" Said From, who has two kids playing hockey in the facility.
But Rocky View County Reeve Greg Boehlke said two structural analysts showed big enough concerns about the red rink that closing the facility seemed the obvious choice.
"I know there is a controversial move but when talking about structural safety, it would be really, really stupid to keep it open," he said.
He said that it is not known when the facility will be reopened to the public but the structure will be assessed to see if parts of it can be used.
“More engineering work will be done to mitigate this. . . working on solutions to work things out, ”said Boehlke.
"We will be working with community partners to determine the long-term future of the building but as of Friday, it is closed until further notice."
The two-rink building also features three curling sheets and a gymnasium, and accommodates dances, parties, theater and other activities.
A web site for the facility states it hosts 150,000 visitors a year.
County officials say a subsequent inspection by the City of Chestermere – prompted by a number of roof collapses of recreation centers in Calgary – contributed to the decision.
In March last year, the roof of Calgary's Fairview Arena collapsed, though at the time city officials were blaming snow accumulation.
Then, last December, the Jack Setters arena was shut down over fears snow could cave in its roof. It reopened earlier this month.
In March 2018, serious injury or death was narrowly avoided when the roof of the JM Equestrian Arena near Okotoks collapsed under heavy snow load.
Rocky View County leases the facility at no charge to the Chestermere Regional Community Association and has supplied millions of dollars to its upkeep, the county said.
From said the county has contributed funding to the center since 2014.