Broken pipe destroys gymnasium floor

A broken pipe has washed out the hopes of hundreds of athletes and thousands of students who use the College of New Caledonia gym.

It was in use when water came cascading through a wall and rolling across the enormous floor, on Friday.

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"It was like a fire hydrant," said one witness. "I have literally spent thousands of hours in this gym and it was brutal to watch its destruction."

"There was about three inches of water built up before the water could be shut off, and it all came in just a few minutes," said CNC spokesperson Alyson Gourley-Cramer.

"It was one of our largest pipes that burst. We actually had one of our Kinesiology classes in the gym at the time. Within half an hour the water was gone but the damage was done."

It is not certain that a replacement will be required, but frequent users of the facility said the floor was not in prime condition in the first place, and the signs of the water's destructive powers are in evidence since the flash flood.

"We got people in to assess the situation, specialists in wooden gymnasium floors, and there is also the sub-floor to consider, but we have not heard back what the plan of action will be," Gourley-Cramer said. "Wooden gym floors are extremely durable, so I can't say if it was due for a replacement or update anyway, but we do keep it in good shape and constantly maintain it."

It is a heavily relied upon facility in the city, one of the largest gymnasium spaces in the region.

The Prince George Youth Volleyball Club is one of its most frequent users, but also badminton, wheelchair sports, basketball, martial arts, Cedars Christian School has used it as their off-site school gym, plus it is busy with CNC's in-house functions like intramural sports, employee pickleball, the Kinesiology classes, and other college functions like exams, student awards ceremonies, plus various public events.

It was a site used for the 2015 Canada Winter Games gymnastics events, it was turned into a dormitory during the wildfire evacuations the past couple of summers.

"We have a lot of community partners, some of them really long-standing, that utilize the gym. It is busy almost 90 per cent of the time," said Gourley-Cramer.

It is too early to know how these past practices will have to adjust for the future.

The flood also caused the closure of the CNC squash courts, weight room, some classrooms, and the bouldering wall.

These places did not get wet, the water was confined to the gym, but air quality testing had to be conducted on the adjacent rooms to ensure healthy breathing. That was completed and the green light given on Wednesday afternoon to reopen as soon as can be arranged.

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