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Strathcona County should have released information about explosions sooner: report
EDMONTON -- A report into the explosions in Sherwood Park in 2018 found Strathcona County should have informed the public sooner.
On Nov. 6, 2018 at 6:17 p.m., there was an explosion at the Strathcona County Community Centre parkade.
The county initially called it a "police incident," and it took more than 20 hours to learn what had happened.
A day later, RCMP said a 21-year-old man caused an explosion in the parkade and died in hospital.
Two days after the explosion, RCMP confirmed the man died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and on Nov. 10, police said there had been a second explosion at 7:52 p.m. when a gas tank caught fire following the first blast.
More than a year later, a report by independent consulting team iStrategic Advisors Inc., found the county and police did well to ensure safety to staff and public, but need to improve in crisis communication, emergency planning and clarification of roles.
"There was a concern with making sure the right information went out…the incident commander was waiting for the information from K Division and K Division was dedicated to the actual police investigation," Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank said. "Safety of the community is paramount and that's where the resources were dedicated, and I'm proud of that outcome."
Frank said if an incident happened today, "We would have a more robust relationship between the RCMP K Division and our own incident commander. That's what we would make sure, that those lines were completely understood and completely clear."
The report, based on 75 interviews with county staff and reviews of documents, made four recommendations:
- Reviewing of the emergency management program
- Ensuring the emergency operations centre has the necessary tools and technology
- Enhancing the crisis communication plan
- Reviewing all emergency management-related plans
"The journey was not without its challenges," the report concluded. "The County should learn the lessons, from this and past incidents, and where appropriate advance Emergency Management – for the benefit of the County and its residents and businesses."
Frank said the county has adopted all recommendations.
Six-hundred staff were displaced after the explosion. The library reopened on May 8, and renovations cost $14 million.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Sarah Plowman