Nearly 100,000 litres of water spills from Calgary community rink

What started as a plan to build a community rink that kids could walk to, ended with disaster in a northwest Calgary community.

“I was really hoping to have that rink up and running for the kids for Christmas holidays,” said Tuscany resident Chandra Sehn.

The Tuscany resident started a fundraiser which garnered $3,000 in support from community members to build the rink while the city’s Adopt-a-Rink program pitched in the lumber, metal brackets and a liner.

“There was a lot of desire to have the rink built and people really got on board,” Sehn said.

In mid November a group of about 12 volunteers started the big job. They set up the boards and laid the liner, but one of the boards snapped.

“We filled it but then it broke right at the very end, so all the water we put in, 70,000 litres, it all went out in a matter of seconds,” Sehn said. “It flooded the whole field down to the road.”

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The city put in a request for some bracing due to the scope of the land.

“After the rink had some issues with the board breaking we decided to try some additional bracing,” said Jim Davis, parks program co-ordinator with the City of Calgary.

“We ordered them from a private vendor. There have been shipping issues and despite being sent December 1, we still don’t have them,” Davis said. “However, the rink volunteers made some and it sounds like the boards held this time, so bracing wasn’t the primary factor this time around.”

But while officials waited for the products, the liner lay exposed. And when volunteers showed up on Saturday, they found that a clawed creature had torn through the material.

“There were significant claw marks that had ripped up the liner,” Sehn said.

She said volunteers did their best to patch the holes they could find.

“It looked to be holding, but after about 10 minutes we had a significant pool leaking out,” Sehn said.

At that point all the disheartened volunteers could do was watch another 28,000 litres of water go down the drain.

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“I was pretty disappointed when I saw that the liner was as ripped as bad as it was. I was pretty deflated at that point because we just kept finding more holes and it got to the point where it was like there’s no way we’re going to find them all,” Sehn said.

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The owner of Ultimate Rink, based in Stratford, Ont., said even a one per cent slope can throw a project off, and just one small hole can spell disaster. He said stakes and bracing are critical, especially if there is a slope.

“When you have a dog or a coyote, they could be all over it and create a puncture from their nails. You wouldn’t even necessarily see that,” Brian Young said.

“All you need is one leak and it slowly drains out.”

The city is now investigating if the slope was an issue or if it was a weak board, and officials said the area may need to be cordoned off.

“It’s basically an entire field of ice, so I put it out on our Facebook page to just avoid the area,” Sehn said.

The city said the default is not to drive items like stakes into the ground.

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“If circumstances make it necessary, we ask to check in with us first before putting stakes in the ground as line locates may need to be done,” said Davis.

The city provided lumber and custom-made metal brackets to hold the lumber together to build the rink frame. Those are the same supplies the city provides for a number of other Adopt-a-Rinks.

The city says at this point they are not sure what caused the problems to start.

“We are investigating,” said Laura Smith, leader of environmental and education initiatives with Parks & Open Spaces. “The first flood the board broke and it may have been due to the slope or a weak board.

“We are taking this as a learning and are going to investigate if a maximum slope should be imposed for other new rinks.”

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