Inspectors examining parking lot collapse at Olympic Stadium
Published Monday, March 5, 2012 12:25PM EST
MONTREAL - Inspectors are spending Monday carefully examining the debris left when a massive concrete slab collapsed in an underground parking lot adjacent to the Olympic Stadium.
The building in the Olympic compound nearest to the point of the collapse is actually under construction: the Saputo Stadium is being built for the Montreal Impact.
So far nobody has been able to determine if the construction of the new soccer stadium could be responsible for the collapse, but Quebec Tourism Minister Nicole Menard believes it could be responsible.
"It seems to be the cause. Now experts will tell us," said Menard on Monday, during a news conference at the Olympic tower.
Dirt that was excavated for the construction of the Saputo Stadium had been placed on top of the parking garage.
On Monday crews were carefully removing that earth and putting it somewhere else.
Nobody was hurt when the chunk of concrete, measuring about 8 by 15 metres, fell at the entrance to the Viau St. parking lot around 3:20 p.m. Sunday.
Firefighters are concerned the weight of the concrete could cause further collapses to lower levels of the parking lot.
"We're making sure that nobody goes around the site and the Olympic Installations Board called an engineer to come and make sure that everything is okay at the scene," said Benoit Brouillard Montreal Fire Department Operations Chief.
Sunday's collapse is the latest in a long series of infrastructure problems at the Olympic Park.
In the 1980s part of the tower fell off, and the long-delayed retractable roof proved inoperable, ripping on multiple occasions.
A 55-tonne concrete slab on the stadium fell in September 1991, injuring no one but scaring many. In 1999 the stadium's second roof ripped while workers were setting up the Auto Show.
Several years ago the Fire Department, fearing more significant rips in the roof under the weight of snow or rain, ordered the stadium closed to public events during the winter.
The proposal for a permanent steel roof was first floated in 2004, but still has not come to fruition.
Regardless of the building's history, the president of the Olympic Park says the building is not going anywhere.
"The structure of the stadium is sound," said David Heurtel. "There are close to 500,000 people that come to the Olympic Stadium each year. There are over 3 million that come to the Olympic park."
The collapse occurs in the midst of much discussion on how to re-purpose the Olympic Stadium and increase its usage during the winter months.
Heurtel said with a new roof the stadium would be able to host events in the winter, generating more cash for the facility. He also pointed out that many investments are planned to update the extensive park.
"There are $200 million in investments over the next few years."
The biggest scheduled event of the spring season at the Olympic Stadium will be the Montreal Impact's home opener against the Chicago Fire.
That game, the first for the Impact in its new league, the MLS, will take place on March 17.