Pearkes Recreation Centre, Centennial library closed after flood caused by broken pipe

A burst water pipe at the G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre caused a major flood and forced the evacuation of the Saanich Archives, closed the Saanich Centennial library branch and threatening the building’s foundation.

The library is expected to remain closed for at least three weeks. The arena is expected to open Saturday, but changing rooms and some washrooms will be out of order.

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Kelli-Ann Armstrong, Saanich’s senior recreation manager, said a pipe burst inside the concrete foundation, part of a room containing machinery and pipes. Running water was noticed about 12 a.m. Friday and main valves were turned off shortly after.

Amstrong said water moved from the utility room into adjacent rooms and ultimately filled a library bathroom to a depth of about one metre.

When a maintenance worker opened the bathroom door, a mix of water, sand and gravel gushed out, flooding the library, archives and main hallway to a depth of about five to eight centimetres.

“It was quite significant,” Armstrong said.

She said most of the library books were high enough that they didn’t get wet.

But some historical materials and maps in the nearby Saanich Archives were touched by the water. The collection has been moved to a storage facility.

“Our staff sloshed through two or three inches of water to get everything up and out of the water,” Armstrong said.

It’s unknown when the archives will be functioning again. Meanwhile, humidity continues to be a threat to the 60,000 items in the library’s collection.

Armstrong said remedial work has begun.

Sodden carpets and drywall have been removed. Fans to circulate the air and dry the facility have been brought in. Inspections of the foundation where the water blew out are being scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Greater Victoria Public Library is scrambling to make up for the loss of the branch just weeks before school begins on Sept. 3.

“It’s a very well-attended branch,” said Jessica Woolard, spokeswoman for the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Woolard said the library will waive fines for three weeks for any material borrowed from the Centennial branch. Books may still be returned to any other branch.

Likewise, the 800 children taking part in the summer reading club at the Centennial branch can complete their programs at other branches.

Every summer the library enrolls kids in the summer reading club. Children agree to read 20 minutes each day and can attend talks and presentations. This summer the library has a total of 8,400 in the club.

“We are going to make sure those kids at Centennial can finish up at other branches,” said Woolard.

She said the Emily Carr and Esquimalt library branches are the nearest to Centennial. But librarians at all branches will be happy to assist pratrons from the Centennial Branch.

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