Snowmelt seeps through college roof

Yukon College's roof is leaking. The recent warm weather following December's heavy snowfall has led to melted snow seeping through the roof of Yukon College's Whitehorse Ayamdigut campus.

Yukon College’s roof is leaking.

The recent warm weather following December’s heavy snowfall has led to melted snow seeping through the roof of Yukon College’s Whitehorse Ayamdigut campus in a number of places.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said the school’s director of college relations, Jacqueline Bedard.

“I’ve not seen it this early before. Even our facilities guy, who has been here almost 15 years, he hasn’t seen it this early,” Bedard said. Some snowmelt is common at the school in the spring months, but with double the usual snowfall for December still sitting on the roof, and a near-record-breaking warm spell over the last week, the leaking caught most people at the school by surprise.

“We were actually praying for colder weather. It was great when it dropped to minus 20 and everything froze up a little bit, but the warmer weather this week, not so great.”

Bedard said the impacts to working and teaching space has so far been minimal, with only two staff being relocated.

Space is already at a premium in the college. There was a serious space crunch last fall that left 12 staff without an office. The school looked at everything from ATCO trailers and renting office space downtown, but neither solution proved financially viable. Instead, the school converted an unused classroom into office space.

“At the moment it’s OK because we’re only talking about two people, and it’s still time when a lot of people are away. As long as we don’t get a ton more snow and a ton more leaks we’re OK. The worst of it seems to have happened over Christmas,” she said.

The daycare and the Yukon Native Language Centre are not impacted, Bedard said.

Most of the damage is contained to the trades and technology wing. One room has been decommissioned because of the leaking, and a staff break room has been closed because of mould. The affected area has been sealed off and the school is working with Public Works and the Workers Compensation Health and Safety Board to complete more mould testing throughout the college. There is no immediate health risk and the building has been deemed fit for occupation, according to Michael Vernon, a spokesman for the college.

In other areas of the school there is soggy drywall and a moldy smell. An office in the trades wing had water flooding down windowpanes and across the floor last week, but early this week it was mostly dry.

Leaking also damaged the student union office, and school staff had to lay out buckets in various hallways and the school’s entrance to catch dripping meltwater.

“We’re tenants in this building. The Yukon government is working on getting the snow off the roof and finding a long-term solution. Right now we’re working on finding out where the water is coming in,” Bedard said.

The government hired a contractor to remove the snow and ice at the school this week, which should help mitigate the situation until repairs can be completed, according to Alicia Debreceni, a spokeswoman for the department of Highways and Public Works.

“A full assessment of damages and associated costs is still being generated. A structural engineer and an architect have both inspected the college and have ensured that there are no related structural or integrity issues,” Debreceni said.

“Currently there are no reports of leaking at other Yukon government buildings, although there is potential at other ones. Highways and Public Works is assessing the risks and will mitigate where possible,” Debreceni said.

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