Although the District of Houston is aiming to reopen the Claude Parish Memorial Arena by Oct. 29, there could still be further delays if the ammonia refrigeration plant is not deemed safe to operate.
Over the coming weeks certified refrigeration mechanics will be inspecting the refrigeration plant to identify any possible repairs.
“If there are any further delays, we will know prior to Oct. 22 and inform the user groups,” explained Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s chief administrative officer.
Houston Mayor Shane Brienen said safety is the district’s number one priority.
“We will not be compromising the safety of our staff or the public by operating a system that cannot be safely operated, and that ultimately could impact the opening of the arena,” he said.
Last week council decided not proceed with the replacement of the refrigeration plant in 2018 after reviewing the proposals submitted.
While the district set a budget of $750,000 for this project, all submissions were over budget and did not include costs for renovating the existing plant room, according to the district.
“It’s unfortunate to see the numbers come in so high,” said Mayor Brienen. “But this gives the engineers more time to review the design and make sure that the facility is safe to use for our staff and the public.”
“We’ll be looking closely at the numbers and making sure that this project is ready to go in 2019 so we can replace the refrigeration plant next year,” he added.
Meanwhile the Houston Minor Hockey Association (MHA) has partnered with the the Burns Lake MHA so that Houston players are not sitting at home waiting for the arena to reopen.
“We know this is not ideal, but we are thankful to the town of Burns Lake for accommodating us,” wrote the Houston MHA on their Facebook page.
Curling season still uncertain
In addition to a delayed hockey season, it’s still unclear whether Houston residents will be able to have a curling season.
The curling club’s plant failed an inspection earlier this year by Technical Safety B.C., the authority responsible for boilers and refrigeration plants.
Following the inspection failure, the Houston Curling Club approached the District of Houston hoping to connect the curling rink to the arena’s ammonia refrigeration plant.
According to the district, this connection is planned to “potentially” allow the Curling Club to operate for the 2018/19 season.
“Plant capacity is the main concern that would determine whether we are able to supply both the arena and curling rink with sufficient refrigerant to keep both surfaces operable,” explained Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s chief administrative officer. “Our contractors will inform us of any limitations we will have that restrict our plant’s ability to supply energy.”