Calgary City Hall will remain closed to the public until Monday as officials continue to assess significant water damage inside the building.
The damage comes from the internal sprinkler system, which was triggered by four small fires set by an intruder early Tuesday morning.
A man was arrested after smashing a window to gain entry into the building and charges are pending.
“The fires were relatively small,” Mario Henriques with city’s facility management department said. “At least two zones of the sprinkler system did activate due to the heat and or the smoke associated with the fires, so there’s significant water damage.”
According to Henriques, the water damage began on the third floor and migrated downstairs, with some damage in the basement. Office space on the southeast side of the building also sustained water damage from the sprinkler system.
Restoration crews continue to work inside the building with fans to dry out the water damage on the floors and inside the walls.
“The first priority is the safety of the staff in the building, the safety of the building itself, and the next priority is to get our services up and running as quickly as possible,” City of Calgary director of corporate security and safety Christopher Collier said.
Several city services have been impacted due to the incident, including Fair Entry, cashiers, planning and development, and taxation services.
According to city officials, service counters at city hall will remain closed “indefinitely” due to the damage.
“As soon as two weeks we’ll start moving some of the counters back onto the third floor. Some of the other areas are going to be quite a while,” Henriques said.
Fair Entry, low income and seniors’ low income bus passes, cashier services and Taxation Services have been temporarily relocated to the third floor of the Central Library, while the Planning and Development counter has been moved to the main floor of the Whitehorn Multi-Services Centre at 3705, 35 St. N.E.
Security personnel at city hall spent much of Thursday redirecting Calgarians from the municipal complex, which was unexpected for some who were looking for those impacted services.
“It would be nice if we got a little notice about what’s going on,” said Steve Hope, who came to city hall to pay a parking ticket.
City officials told reporters that work continues to assess the damage and determine how much it will cost; a figure that is expected in the coming weeks.
“We still believe that water is migrating, so things change all the time,” City of Calgary acting city manager Carla Male said. “We have been in touch with our insurance department and our risk claims department; we will know more by the end of next week.”
According to Male, many staff are currently on holiday in August and accommodations are being made for staff who work in the impacted areas.
Male added that any staff who work on the fourth floor or higher are able to go into the office.
Calgary Police said the man they arrested is a client of the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) and the “incident highlights the importance of working with Alberta Health Services to offer assessment, support, and consultation for people experiencing a mental health crisis.”
When asked what action the city would take regarding the incident, Male told reporters it remains “a police matter.”
“We’ll let that investigation happen and then we would take the right next steps whenever that’s determined,” Male said.