Opening date for Strathcona County Community Centre still in flux after explosions Tuesday
UPDATE: On Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, the RCMP provided an update on their investigation. Click here for more.
There is still no firm date in place as to when the Strathcona County Community Centre will reopen to the public, three days after two explosions rocked the Sherwood Park complex.
While the community centre and county hall were turned back over to county officials on Thursday night, the parkade remained an active crime scene Friday and under control of the RCMP, director of emergency services Jeff Hutton said.
Hutton said the good news is, the structural integrity of the building appears to be sound, according to the initial assessment from an engineering firm.
“The engineering firm performed a visual inspection, and the initial conclusion was positive and that there is no significant damage to the parkade and the structural integrity is intact,” he said.
He said they’re hopeful the building could open by mid-next week, but added further testing and cleanup of the building and parkade is required.
Hutton said the complex will likely reopen in stages, with the county hall opening first followed by the community centre.
“Public safety is absolutely paramount, has been throughout this and will remain as such. We need to know the building is safe before we allow staff or public back in,” he said.
“We’ve set a very high standard for safety right now. Things visually look somewhat promising, but in an incident like this we’re a little more concerned at the moment at maybe what we can’t see. We need to ensure the building is safe and we’re applying the diligence of doing the environmental testing because it has to be safe.”
Emergency crews responded to the Strathcona County Community Centre east of Edmonton at around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to reports of a fire. On Wednesday, RCMP confirmed there were two explosions, one before police were called to the scene and another at around 8:15 p.m.
The initial explosion led police to a car packed with explosives and a man with severe injuries, Global News learned. The 21-year-old man, who has been identified as Kane Kosolowsky, later died. An autopsy determined Kosolowsky died from a gunshot wound.
Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank confirmed Friday that the suspect was not a former employee of the county.
“The RCMP investigation identified the suspect and confirmed that there is no other threat to our community or residents,” Frank said.
“I can confirm this person has never been an employee of Strathcona County.”
The community centre in Sherwood Park also houses the library.
While about 600 staff have been displaced since Tuesday, county services are still being offered. The family and community services department is offering counselling at Millennium Place. The county’s IT department is working out of the Glen Allan Recreation Complex and a small library has been set up at the Broadmoor Reception Complex.
“I am very proud of how we’ve come together as a community during this challenging and difficult time,” Frank said. “Strathcona County is a strong and resilient and tight-knit community.
“We’ve come through three harrowing days here. We don’t really expect to see explosions in Strathcona County.”
Watch below: Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and Fire Chief Jeff Hutton discuss conversations with the community, structural assessments and timelines for reopening.
Hutton said about 100 vehicles remain trapped in the parkade. He said they haven’t been able to get inside to see whether or not any of the vehicles sustained damage in the blasts.
He encouraged people who had vehicles in the parkade to contact their insurance companies. The county is working to reunite people with their vehicles as soon as possible.
“Our goal is to determine the best approach to safely access and remove those vehicles from the parkade,” Hutton said. “We have collected names from everybody there and we will be in direct contact with those individuals.”
Two schools in the area that were closed to students on Wednesday and Thursday were open on Friday.
Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of the explosions in Sherwood Park Tuesday night and the ongoing RCMP investigation
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