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Officials scramble to check for carbon monoxide issues at other city venues

On Mar. 6, City Council called for a report about carbon monoxide at the McMeeken Centre and all other city-owned buildings. City staff somehow missed the part about the other buildings
Ermatinger-Clergue National Historical Site has a wood-fired hearth and a gas stove, but no carbon monoxide detector. David Helwig/SooToday

Arenas aren't the only city facilities being checked for carbon monoxide problems.

The recent scare at W.J. McMeeken Centre has prompted city officials to review air quality issues at all city facilities.

"We've learned our lessons. Pretty well all facilities now within the city are ramping up inspections," Kathy Fisher, curator at the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, told the city's historic sites board last week.

"It brought to light that we have a hearth with no carbon monoxide monitors. And a few other things," Fisher said, sitting just a few feet from a fireplace and stack of firewood in the Ermatinger site's summer kitchen.

A gas stove was also recently installed there.

Fisher's remarks  were made during a discussion of the city's joint health and safety committee.

"There's a whole bunch of things we're all doing now," she said. "We do it anyway but we've really pushed it forward now."

As SooToday's Carol Martin and Brad Coccimiglio first reported on Feb. 28, dozens of people became ill as carbon monoxide levels as high as 258 parts per million were detected inside the McMeeken around the time that Korah Collegiate's hockey team was playing St. Mary's College.

On Mar. 6, City Council passed a resolution calling for a staff report at the next council meeting outlining "how carbon monoxide is monitored at all city-owned buildings, and if the cause of the... W.J. McMeeken Centre carbon monoxide leak has been determined and rectified."

When the report was presented at last week's council meeting, councillors received an exhaustive evaluation of the McMeeken's air-quality issues, but nothing about other city-owned venues.

The oversight was pointed out by Ward 3 councillor Matthew Shoemaker.

Al Horsman, the city's chief administrative officer, admitted that city staff didn't notice the reference to non-arena facilities.

"We're still working on that. We did not appreciate at the time we saw the motion that we were talking about all facilities, not just the recreational facilities," Horsman told Shoemaker.

"It will take us some time to be able to be able to put that information together and package it in a way that's going to be useful and helpful to council. It'll be a couple of meetings before we're able to get that back," Horsman said.