Community Centre - parkade incident

After Action Review

As part of its commitment to safety and industry best practice, Strathcona County hired an independent contractor to review the County's emergency response and recovery to the Community Centre underground parkade explosions on November 6, 2018, up to full operational recovery on May 8, 2019.

The After Action Review focused on examining information flow and communications, the emergency operations centre, the recovery and re-entry of the Community Centre/County Hall and business continuity planning and management.

The report is based on over 75 interviews with County staff, tenants and partners, a comprehensive review of County documents and plans, along with a scan of relevant internal and external After Action Reviews for best practices and learnings.

Strengths

  • The report’s findings confirmed the County’s actions aligned with its priority of ensuring the safety of citizens and staff throughout the incident.
  • Strathcona County maintained full control and management of all municipal services and operations, throughout the duration of the incident.
  • Strathcona County effectively recovered and continued to provide municipal functions and services, despite the relocation of 600+ staff and loss of its headquarters in the Community Centre and County Hall complex.
  • Throughout its response and recovery efforts, Strathcona County worked with a broad set of community partners (e.g., RCMP, Elk Island Catholic School and Elk Island Public School Boards, Heartland Alliance Church, Alberta Health Services, Library) to care for and support of citizens and its staff.
  • The report notes the effectiveness of the internal and external communication with stakeholders and the public following the first day.

Learnings
The key areas for improvement focused on strengthening components of:

  • Plans and readiness
    Through further training and exercises for the Emergency Advisory Committee and the Incident Management Team, as well as stronger integration between the County’s emergency response plans.
  • Incident management
    Through stronger consideration of unified command,  as well as the development of a recovery plan that formally defines the reporting structure.
  • Crisis communications
    Through formal use of internal notifications using existing tools, release of a holding statement earlier, and clearly defined roles for crisis communication versus day-to-day communication.
  • Business continuity
    Through ensuring updated business continuity plans, prioritized business functions and overall readiness for primary and secondary recovery options.

Next steps

Moving forward, Strathcona County has committed to actioning all report recommendations, in addition to the work already completed or underway since November 6, 2018.

Media statements

About the November 6, 2018 incident

On November 6, 2018 at approximately 6:20 p.m., there was an explosion in the Community Centre parkade. The resulting fire was called in to 9-1-1. Fire fighters were first on scene. Staff and patrons were evacuated as a safety precaution.  

About two hours later, there was a second explosion. It then became an RCMP crime scene. A lone male was found with a self-inflicted injury in a vehicle and was transported to hospital. He later succumbed to his injuries. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, the concentration and unknown properties of smoke and soot throughout the entire complex (including Community Centre, library, parkade, Vicky’s and County Hall), the area was closed and turned over to the RCMP Major Crimes unit.  Area schools and businesses were closed to ensure the RCMP team had room to conduct their investigation.

RCMP concluded a thorough search of the entire Community Centre area and investigated the scene at the parkade as of November 15. They reported their findings and returned the building to Strathcona County. Air quality and structural testing were conducted prior to anyone being let back on site – even to collect their vehicles. Once air quality was deemed safe, additional structural and environmental testing was possible.

Over the next several weeks and months, Strathcona County worked with contractors and Alberta Health Services to ensure Strathcona County Community Centre and County Hall offices, meeting spaces and the library were safe from environmental toxins resulting from the explosions.

Strathcona County's Community Centre underground parkade and Strathcona County Library re-opened to the public on May 8, following a six-month closure.

 

 

Last updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Page ID: 50386