The Meredith Centre in Chelsea, Quebec is closed March 1 after the arena’s outer wall collapsed.
Peter Sudermann, a board member with the Chelsea Foundation, the organization responsible for managing the arena and multi-purpose centre, said the damage “looks a lot worse than it is.” Wet, heavy snow weighed on the building, pushing on the outer wall and causing it to separate. That wall does not structurally hold up the building, but is more like a facade, said Sudermann. That wall’s environmentally friendly design is meant to capture rainwater for reuse.
“From what we’ve been told by the engineers, the building is safe,” he said, adding that he would not be speaking to the Low Down inside the Meredith Centre if it was dangerous. Even so, Chelsea municipality, which owns the actual building and the land it sits on, decided to close the building Feb. 28 and cancel activities that night for public safety reasons.
About a half-dozen Pomerleau employees and engineers are assessing the situation. Pomerleau is also the engineering company that built the Meredith Centre, which opened last July.
People were reportedly skating on the rink the afternoon of Feb. 28, when they heard a popping sound in the wall.
Sudermann said they hope to have the problem fixed and the centre fully opened by Saturday, March 2.
He said it’s unfortunate this happened, considering the $9.8 million Meredith Centre has been controversial for its design and costs. But he said the repairs should be covered under insurance and not at the expense of taxpayers.