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Original article posted 

Danger of falling snow, ice spurs safety fencing outside Orillia museum

warning sign

Safety fencing erected in front of the Orillia Museum of Art and History will remain in place until a solution is found to prevent snow and ice from sliding off the metal roof and onto the sidewalk below.

The fencing was temporarily installed in front of the Peter Street South building Nov. 19 and again on Dec. 18 due to predictions of a heavy snowfall and the potential for falling ice and snow, the city said in response to questions from

While the steel roof has been in place at the local landmark since 2004, fluctuating weather patterns have caused unpredictable freezing and thawing that are not typical of a regular winter season, said Jasvinder Rattigan, manager of accounting services.

Asked if snow or ice from the roof of the city-owned building had fallen on anyone, and, if so, were they injured, Rattigan said, “A claim was submitted last season and is being handled by our insurance company.”

The fencing blocks access to a portion of the sidewalk in front of the museum, as well as the neighbouring alleyway that leads to a parking lot.

Red and yellow signs affixed to the fencing declare: “Danger: Sidewalk closed due to falling snow and ice.”

Visitors to the museum are directed to enter the building through an entrance at the rear.

Rattigan said the safety fencing would remain until a solution is in place.

“The goal is to ensure a long-term solution can be implemented in future years,” she said.

Possible measures could include “repairs, replacement, alterations to the existing snow/ice control system and/or administrative controls,” she added.

What can be done to mitigate falling snow and ice from roof tops?

First, do not make the assumption that any snow guard will do and that all snow guards are the same;, what might work on one roof may not necessarily work on an other roof…why?

  • Roof designed snow loads vary across Canada; for example Whistler BC has a minimal roof designed snow load of 177.5 psf while a roof in Miramichi NB has a minimal roof designed snow load of 69.3 psf.   The roof in Whistler has a minimal roof designed snow load 2.5 times higher than the one in Miramichi, therefore a snow guard in Whistler NEEDS to be designed differently than the one in Miramichi.
  • Allowable holding capacity on the specific roof type being used; is it a standing seam roof or is it an exposed fasten roof (screw down). Each roof requires different types of snow guard attachment points which is important to know when performing load calculations.

          standing seam roofexposed fastened roof

  • Roof pitch- how steep is the roof is it a 2 on 12 or a 6 on 12. Think of it this way, is it easier to slow down a transport when the hill has less of an angle or more of an angle.
  • What is the length from the eave to the top of the roof or ridge. What distance does the sliding snow and ice have to accumulate momentum – do you need to break up the momentum using 1 snow guard or 2 snow guards.
  • Are there any upper roofs shedding snow and ice down onto lower roofs, is there an adjacent roof butting up to the roof which can cause snow pile up in a corner, is there one part of the roof that is shaded?

adjacent wall

These are some factors that MUST BE taken into consideration when designing snow guards; if not there is a risk of the snow guards not performing as required.

snow guard type

If you have any questions or concerns about falling snow and ice from your rooftop or an industry professional looking for properly designed snow guards based on you project needs please contact us at or vial email at