Gymnastics building demolition starts today

Pacific Blasting and Demolition's site office outside the old gymnastics building next to the North Peace Arena on Thursday. Photo by Chris Newton

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — After a short delay in getting a hazardous materials handling plan approved, officials with the City of Fort St. John say that the demolition of the former gymnastics building next to the North Peace Arena got underway today.

Fort St. John’s General Manager of Community Services Wally Ferris said that the City originally did a hazardous materials assessment of the building in 2015. However, legislation changes that came into effect in May meant that the assessment needed to be redone to higher standards.

“The changes in the legislation were mainly around how they test for hazardous materials,” said Ferris. “In 2015 it was acceptable to just say that they tested. Now the legislation changes in May indicates how you tested, what you did, and what the estimated quantity of the hazardous materials that could be there is. So, you just have to provide more detail and the estimated quantity of hazardous materials.”

The City brought in a consultant to do an updated hazmat assessment earlier this year, who submitted the assessment to Worksafe BC. Ferris explained that such a delay is not uncommon, as any hazmat assessments that were done in B.C. prior to May will need to be redone to adhere to the new rules.

Ferris said that Worksafe BC has signed off on the plan, and will continue to monitor the site for the duration of the demolition. The City awarded the contract for the building’ demolition to Edmonton-based Pacific Blasting and Demolition for $688,135. According to Ferris, the contractor began demolition operations today.

Ferris added that the City’s goal is to have the demolition complete prior to the start of the upcoming U17 World Hockey Challenge next month. “The building itself will be quick to come down once the abatement of the hazardous materials in finalized. The cleanup should be fairly quick. It’s the work on the remaining standing wall that adjoins the arena will take a bit longer to do. But that old part of the building should be down before U17’s,” said Ferris.

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