A worker uses a steam wand to clear the rain gutters on Maryview Elementary School Tuesday. Many residents

Is your roof sound?

Rafters, trusses, canopies and domes beware.

Rafters, trusses, canopies and domes beware.

Roof after roof is succumbing to the region’s mammoth snowfall this season and it’s only January.

Early Monday morning, the roof of the Sylvan Lake Arena caved in, the most recent in a slew of collapses.

The collapse narrowly missed the one employee on site. He was working late driving the Zamboni.

No one was injured, but the arena is a write-off, and is set for demolition sometime in coming days or weeks.

Graham Parsons, the arena operator, has been working hard to set up alternative ice surface options for local hockey teams, figure skaters and other ice users.

The bantam team was relocated to Stettler’s arena on Monday night after crews were able to remove some of their hockey equipment around 4 p.m. on Monday.

“On Thursday our bantam Bs were supposed to play Innisfail here so now they’re going to Innisfail,” Parsons said.

Sylvan Lake held an emergency council meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss items such as insurance and moving up the construction date for the new multiplex, which was scheduled to be built in 2016.

“It was a huge part of the town and probably the busiest rink in rural Western Canada because we had summer ice and it was busy 11 months of the year. People from all over the world skated here and they’ve been reaching out with their support since it went down. It’s amazing to see how many lives the old girl touched,” Parsons said.

Meanwhile, a dairy barn roof collapsed on Jan. 13 just north of Rocky Mountain House, killing a number of cows.

Two other barn roofs came down in December in Red Deer and Lacombe counties due to heavy snow loads, with one incident killing about 20 cattle.

The roof of a storage shed at Olds Home Hardware caved in on Jan. 4 and a snow-laden Westerner Park vinyl tent roof also crumpled to the ground last month due to heavy snow.

According to assistant county manager Rick Henderson at Red Deer County, crews have been out looking at the barns of concerned farmers.

“On Friday, just west of Innisfail, north of the Cottonwood Road, a shop that had a whole bunch of equipment in it collapsed. It was a wooden quonset. Also, a hangar at the Innisfail airport that the Red Deer Gliding Club had some planes stored in. There were some planes damaged there. One section of that metal quonset collapsed. There are more out there that I don’t know of,” Henderson said.

Marc Bailly, 65, had a private garage in Mirror where he was working on eight cars, including a Jaguar and Porsche.

Its roof came down sometime within the 10 minutes he stepped out to visit a neighbour on Jan. 13 around 6:30 p.m.

The shop was approximately 13 metres wide and 24 metres long, with five garage doors.

“I was able to dig under the snow and wood and open a door from the side. This way I was able to pull the cars out with my Bobcat.”

Miraculously, only one was dented in the back end, an MGB sports car, thanks to the extra protection of the paint booth, which had been housing the cars inside the shop.

According to Bailly, he hadn’t noticed a problem with his tin roof and didn’t think there was that much snow on it.

“I’d reinforced it six years ago with big aircraft wires all across it — five of them — but it snapped and everything went down,” he said. “I’m only a few hundred feet from the trains as well so the vibrations from there don’t help. … The soil is always vibrating.”

Bailly plans to save what he can inside, such as his tools, and go from there.

“The building is appraised at close to $100,000 so for everything for cleanup and rebuilding, I’d be looking at about $40,000 I think,” he said, noting that’s only if he could reuse the walls.

The number of collapses are sad news but come as little surprise to those at Cooper Roofing Ltd. in Red Deer, who are stunned at the snow they find on roofs.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years and it’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen a January like this with the amount of snow removal going on and ice dams that people have,” said Mark Hunter, Cooper’s residential division manager.

There is always at least a metre of snow on the roofs with plenty of high drifts, he said.

“One roof I was on had a drift of at least six feet —­ over my head.”

The warmer temperatures may be melting some of the cumbersome load but it’s causing other roof chaos, Hunter said.

“Because there has been such an ice buildup, there’s ice dams and then there’s leaks so we’re getting a lot of calls from insurance adjusters to look at places with interior damage from these ice dams.”

Hunter advises all homeowners to call in the professionals as it’s slippery on the roofs and he knows one person who has fallen trying to clear snow from above.


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