The few days leading up to Christmas were calamitous for utilities of all sorts in Jasper.
First, a power outage occurred in the evening of Dec. 21. Starting shortly after 7 p.m., the service disruption lasted a few hours on the third of four nights when temperatures plummeted below -40 C. More than 800 customers were affected until the service was restored at 10:30 p.m.
That was followed by a natural gas pipe that ruptured in the alleyway connecting the Alpine Summit Lodge and the Jasper Municipal Library and Cultural Centre on the afternoon of Dec. 22.
“ATCO is aware of a gas odour at the Jasper library. The building has been vacated and ventilated. ATCO is currently investigating and preparing for any necessary repair work. For safety, the building will not be opened to the public again until work is complete. There are no issues with surrounding structures, and there are no anticipated service interruptions,” read a note from ATCO posted after 2 p.m. that day on the Municipality of Jasper’s Facebook page.
ATCO worked closely with the municipality and Alpine Summit Lodge staff to ensure the residents’ safety. Lodge staff encouraged the seniors to be prepared for an evacuation order, but none came.
“They made it clear we are not at any risk,” read a note posted from Evergreens Foundation CAO Kristen Chambers on the lodge’s Facebook page. “The Foundation is in excellent shape to look after our seniors in the event of any service disruption or further issues.”
The leak was fixed and natural gas service was restored to the library building the following day, although it took longer for the air to clear. That building has since reopened with no issues to surrounding structures and no other users experienced any service interruptions. The public washrooms on Connaught Drive were also closed until the gas line repairs were completed as well.
Then, on the morning of Dec. 23, water pipes ruptured inside the Jasper Fitness and Aquatic Centre. There were unconfirmed reports of other water pipes breaking around town as well.
That facility has since reopened while municipal crews and contractors continue working on the emergency building maintenance and repairs. As of Tuesday, some limitations remained including the diversion of entrants from the main doors to the side door and closure of the change rooms and showers. A capacity limit was set at 30 as well.
The causes of all of the disruptions were not officially disclosed. ATCO offers a page on its website with information on what to do before, during and after storms.
Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, JASPER FITZHUGH