File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS The Fernie Memorial Arena is shown in Fernie, B.C. A judge has ruled police do not have to turn over records seized during an investigation into a fatal ammonia leak at the ice rink in southeastern British Columbia.

Judge rules RCMP don’t have to share records from ammonia leak in B.C.

FERNIE, B.C. — A judge says police do not have to turn over records that were seized during an investigation of a fatal ammonia leak at an ice rink in southeastern British Columbia.

The City of Fernie asked the provincial court judge to force the RCMP to give it copies of two log books that were taken from the arena after three men died in October.

The city argued in court in December that municipal officials needed access to the records to determine what went wrong, in part because two municipal employees who died were the most knowledgeable about the operation and maintenance of the arena.

As an employer, the city argued it is required by the Workers Compensation Act to do a full investigation into the incident and its probe would not be possible without the log books because they contain detailed information about the operation and maintenance of the arena’s refrigeration system.

City employees Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith as well as refrigeration contractor Jason Podloski died after the leak.

The judge’s recent decision says the court heard that the RCMP took possession of the log books after the deaths, and that investigators assert sharing them could jeopardize the criminal investigation.

No changes have been laid but the Mounties said the city could be a possible suspect in the criminal investigation because it owns and operates the arena.

Lawyers for the RCMP said the city will eventually get back the log books or copies of them, either because no charges are laid or as evidence during a court process.

Judge Lynal Doerksen said police do not have to share copies of the log books with the city.

“Given the nature of the incident: multiple fatalities with a possible criminal cause, it is obvious that it would not be in the public interest to jeopardize the RCMP investigation to assist the city with its statutory obligation,” he wrote in the decision, dated Jan. 17.

“To put it bluntly: the RCMP investigation is a criminal investigation and there is the possibility of criminal charges such as ‘criminal negligence causing death.’ As the city owns and operates the arena, the city is a possibly suspect. It must be emphasized that at this stage there is only the mere possibility of charges and no discussion or indication of the probability or likelihood of charges.”

The court heard RCMP officers did not have a search warrant for the log books when a firefighter was asked to retrieve them from the arena.

The city argued the firefighter had no authority to turn the records over to police and alleges that the way the RCMP obtained them was “improper or illegal.” It says investigators obtained a search warrant for the log books after they were already in the possession of the RCMP.

Just Posted

Child’s play at Westerner Days

Balloons bring out the child in everyone

‘Do Indians have property rights?’ Former Alberta chief’s land dispute in court

STANDOFF, Alta. — A dispute between two families over land on Canada’s… Continue reading

Missing female found near Sundre

Local rancher finds missing female

Buyers turn to letters to snag homes in Canada’s hot real estate markets

TORONTO — Monica Martins and her husband had been looking for a… Continue reading

WATCH: Gazebo groundbreaking in Waskasoo

Fifty per cent of the $100,000 project is funded by a provincial government grant

Second World War Two-era B-29 Superfortress named ‘Fifi’ lands for first-ever Canadian tour

MONTREAL — A rare Second World War-era bomber named “Fifi” has touched… Continue reading

Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Stage 15 of Tour de France

CARCASSONNE, France — Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprinted away from two… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds teases ‘Deadpool 2’ extended cut at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Reynolds has made a triumphant return to San… Continue reading

‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam!” thrill Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — Warner Bros. brought out all the stops Saturday at… Continue reading

All shell, no shock: Lobster prices strong, season picks up

PORTLAND, Maine — New England’s lobster industry faces big new challenges in… Continue reading

Woman killed in collision near Olds

A woman is dead after a collision west of Olds Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

BRANSON, Mo. — “Grab the baby!” Those were the last words Tia… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month