Calgary arena at risk of collapse passed inspection last March

The southeast arena ordered to temporarily close over the weekend due to fears its roof could collapse had initially been found to be structurally sound during a sweeping review of facilities last March.

On Saturday, the city’s safety codes officer ordered Jack Setters Arena in Lynnwood to be “closed pending mitigation,” over concerns that an accumulation of snow of about 15 cm could cause the roof to collapse.

Jack Setters was one of 42 city and community-owned arenas that came under the microscope after a roof truss gave way at the Fairview Arena last February and came crashing down into the 45-year-old building, a day after it was closed due to safety concerns prompted by snapping sounds and a crack spotted in a wooden support beam.

Following that review, which took particular interest in 23 buildings built between the 1960s and the 1980s, city safety inspectors discovered no red problems at any of the arenas and pledged to conduct more frequent inspections of the facilities.

Marco Civitarese, acting director of Calgary building services, said the initial visual inspections of the arenas prompted no concerns, but a recent follow-up review of Jack Setters determined potential issues with its curved bowstring trusses, which under certain circumstances could become unstable.

“If one of those fails, it’s like a house of cards,” he said, noting a thorough review is ongoing this week to outline both short- and long-term solutions that could potentially see the facility re-open.

“This has certainly been done out of an abundance of caution.”

The Fairview Arena before demolition in February 2018.

Civitarese said no other Calgary arenas share the unique design of Jack Setters’ trusses and therefore wouldn’t face the same potential structural problems.

While talks are ongoing with the Millican Ogden Community Association, which operates the one-sheet rink, Civitarese said the immediate options are fairly limited to potentially shoring up the roof supports, removing snow as it falls, or creating a secondary roof structure to prevent heavy loads of snow from accumulating on the compromised roof.

On Sunday, community association president Rick Smith said the closure was “devastating” for the many groups that use the facility, including minor and adult hockey, ringette and figure skating.

“We have a full season all booked,” he said, “as well as public skating opportunities. All of those things now have a really big question mark behind them.”

Civitarese said the city’s recreation department is working with impacted groups to find temporary facilities while engineers determine solutions to the issues with Jack Setters Arena.

— With files from Yolande Cole

slogan@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ShawnLogan403

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