Houston Curling Club members have replaced piping and other equipment in readiness to resume activity.
The club’s ice-making equipment was condemned last year after an inspection, leaving members scrambling to come up with a way to make ice.
The solution is to connect to the District of Houston’s arena’s own new ice-making system via an underground pipe.
That work has yet to start but club volunteers have prepared for that by putting in new piping and other equipment for the eventual connection.
“There was no way we could fiscally afford that ourselves,” says club president Ken Amerson of the work needed within the facility.
“A quote we received was for $90,000.”
Instead, the club was successful in receiving two grants of $10,000 each from the Dungate Community Forest and the Bulkley Valley Credit Union’s economic development fund to help purchase piping and other supplies.
Those grants, along with equipment and assistance from Finning and Emberson Plumbing and Heating, plus volunteer labour made the project possible.
The connection to pump coolant from the arena will be financed by the District and the cost repaid over time by the curling club.
“We won’t need near the cold that the arena needs,” said Amerson. “They need 7 degrees Farhenheit and we need just 26 degrees.”
The club had hoped to have the arena connection finished for this season but it’s now looking more likely it’ll be next season before curling can resume.
“The one advantage to connecting to the arena is that the ice there goes in earlier, in September, than our season which normally starts in November. So now we can start earlier as well,” Amerson added.
The recent prolonged cold snap even had club members talking about curling on natural ice.
“Someone said we should just kick the door open,” said Amerson.
In the meantime, club members have travelled to other rinks, primarily for bonspiels, and plan to do that again.
“Five of us are going to Smithers [for a bonspiel] so we’ll be pretty rusty,” Amerson noted.
Founded in 1976 the Houston Curling Club has remained in its original building and the condemned ice making equipment was also original to the club’s founding.
And while there may be no curling this season, the facility is also the home for local dart players who pay club dues.