Air pipes

Calgary restaurants, bars with burst pipes, cold flooding

“It just seems like every time you gain momentum something knocks you over, between the new restrictions that were given to you last week and now this.”

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Santa Claus left a frozen lump of coal under the tree for several Calgary restaurants this year.

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With most establishments closing over the holiday weekend, some restaurant staff returned to burst pipes and flooded businesses with a cold snap that brought temperatures down to near record levels for the period. of the year.

For Kevin Warner, deputy general manager of The Unicorn on 8th Avenue SW, this is just one more blow to the company.

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“It seems like every time you gain momentum, something knocks you over, between the new restrictions that were given to you last week and now this,” he told Postmedia on Wednesday. “It sucks.”

Management hoped The Unicorn was back up and running by Tuesday, but one burst pipe turned into seven burst or cracked pipes. Insurance will cover the cost of repairs, but the damage has put the season at risk.

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The goal now is to open the two upper levels of the three-level establishment for New Years Eve, which will be accompanied by a muted celebration.

Due to a combination of damage from the burst pipes and sanitary orders, much of the planned festivities had to be canceled, including live music.

A photo provided shows the damage and cleanup to the Unicorn Pub on Stephen Ave SW in downtown Calgary.  A pipe burst in the popular pub during the recent cold snap, forcing the business to close.
A photo provided shows the damage and cleanup to the Unicorn Pub on Stephen Ave SW in downtown Calgary. A pipe burst in the popular pub during the recent cold snap, forcing the business to close. Courtesy Photo Kevin Warner

On top of all that, the world junior hockey championship was canceled on Wednesday, as much of the draw for the Olympics fizzled with the withdrawal of NHL players from the tournament. These would have been major draws for the Unicorn sports bar.

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“December is normally very good for bookings and Christmas parties, but even that was well short of the pre-COVID years,” he said. “January also tends to be one of our slowest months so any income coming in is a must and breaks and downtime don’t help at all.”

Several other restaurants and bars were also affected by the cold snap and had to close temporarily. This includes Mugs Pub, which was able to reopen on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Native Tongues Taqueria showed water pouring into the restaurant like torrential rain in a post to the restaurant’s Instagram account on Monday. It is not yet known when it will reopen.

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The city of Calgary has received 70 calls since Christmas morning reporting water outages and requested a team response to 42 of the calls. There had been eight previous water outage calls this fall and winter.

Chris Huston, director of drinking water distribution with the water utilities, said that doesn’t mean these are the only frozen pipes in Calgary. If a pipe bursts, they usually won’t be notified – often that call goes straight to insurance, maintenance, or a contractor. But what they see is an indicator of the problem as a whole.

He said a number of factors contribute to freezing pipes in cold weather. For one thing, the water supply is currently between 1.5 and 5 ° C, and at these temperatures, it doesn’t take much for them to freeze. Sometimes it’s as simple as a return of cold air concentrated at a point in the pipes, a window left open for fresh air, or a water pipe along an under-insulated or cut wall. a warmer air supply.

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“This air comes in really cold, and if there are pipes like near a sink or other plumbing in a building or a house, those drafts can freeze a pipe pretty quickly,” Huston said.

The city has a number of tips on its website at calgary.ca on how to keep pipes from freezing.

Huston noted that freezing levels also play a role. Most of Calgary’s main water infrastructure is at least eight feet underground, although some older pipes are less than seven meters due to changing building codes, making them more susceptible to freezing.

Currently, freezing levels in Calgary vary from four and a half to six feet, but that can change with long periods of subarctic weather. Before Christmas, frost levels were between a foot and a foot and a half deep.

During the prolonged deep frost of 2019, frost levels reached 12 feet, causing widespread problems throughout the city.

[email protected]

Twitter: @ JoshAldrich03

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