What started as a plan to build a community track where children could walk ended in disaster in a northwest Calgary community.
“I was really hoping to have that track for the kids for Christmas break,” Tuscany resident Chandra Sehn said.
The Tuscany resident started a fundraiser that raised $3,000 in support of community members to build the rink, while the city’s Adopt-a-Rink program pitched in the wood, metal brackets and a liner.
“There was a lot of desire to get the track built and people really got on board,” Sehn said.
In mid-November, a group of about 12 volunteers started the big job. They put up the boards and laid the lining, but one of the boards broke.
“We filled it up, but then it broke at the very end, so all the water we poured in, 70,000 gallons, all went out in a matter of seconds,” Sehn said. “It flooded the entire field up to the road.”
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The city brought a request for some leveling due to the size of the land.
“After the track had some issues with breaking the board, we decided to try some additional support,” says Jim Davis, parks program coordinator with the City of Calgary.
“We ordered them from a private seller. There were shipping issues and even though it was shipped on December 1st, we still don’t have it,” Davis said. “However, the course volunteers made a few and it sounds like the boards were held this time, so the crews were not the primary factor this time.”
But while officials waited for the products, the lining was exposed. And when volunteers arrived on Saturday, they found a clawed creature tearing through the material.
“There were significant claw marks that tore up the liner,” Sehn said.
She said volunteers did their best to patch the holes they could find.
“It seemed to hold, but after about 10 minutes we had a substantial pool leaking,” Sehn said.
At that point, all the despondent volunteers could do was watch another 28,000 liters of water go down the drain.
“I was quite disappointed when I saw that the lining was torn as badly as it was. I was pretty empty 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 percent slope can throw off a project, and just one small hole can spell disaster. He said bollards and bracing are critical, especially if there is a slope.
“When you have a dog or a coyote, they can be all over it and create a puncture with their nails. You wouldn’t necessarily even see it,” Brian Young said.
“All you need is one lick and it slowly drains out.”
The city is now investigating whether the slope was a problem or if it was a poor sign, and officials said the area may need to be cordoned off.
“It’s basically a whole field of ice, so I put it on our Facebook page just to avoid the area,” Sehn said.
The city said the default is not to drive items such as sticks into the ground.
“If circumstances make it necessary, we ask that you check in with us first before stakes are placed in the ground, as line tracking may need to be done,” Davis said.
The city provided wood and custom metal brackets to hold the wood together to build the track frame. This is the same supply 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 begin.
“We’re investigating,” said Laura Smith, leader of environmental and education initiatives at Parks & Open Spaces. “The first flood broke the board and it may have been because of the slope or a weak board.
“We see this as a learning and will investigate whether a maximum slope should be introduced for other new lanes.”
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