The Houston Curling Club should start making ice sometime this week now that a connection to the adjacent Claude Parish Memorial Arena’s new refrigeration plant has been completed.
“We’re now connected but we don’t have any brine flowing yet. We hope that’s going to take place in the next week or so when Yeti comes back to do pressure testing,” said club president Ken Amonson last week of the company which made the connection.
The current hope is that ice for curling will be ready by the end of month, ending a year and a half without curlers being able to enjoy their sport.
The club’s ice-making system was shut down when Technical Safety B.C. had questions about the system’s pressure vessels.
“There was nothing wrong with the freon. That was fine but the pressure vessels were rusted and they wanted them tested,” Amonson said.
Connecting to the arena’s new plant was judged to make more sense than the expense of reconditioning the club’s own system.
“And there was a significant cost to what would have been a new part on an old plant,” Amonson continued.
The shut down of the club’s system meant there was no curling for the 2018-2019 season and, so far, half of the 2019-2020 season.
Amonson said the club wants to ensure everything is working before deciding on a date for a ceremonial in-service recognition.
Founded in 1976 the Houston Curling Club has remained in its original building and the ice making equipment was also original to the club’s founding.
In preparation for the arena connection, the club did install new piping and other equipment, a project accomplished through volunteer labour, a $10,000 Dungate Community Forest grant, a $10,000 grant from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union and in-kind assistance from Finning, Emberson Plumbing and Heating and John Himech Logging.
And it received word just last week of a $50,000 grant from the Dungate Community Forest.
“That’s excellent news,” said Amonson. “We’ll be meeting to decide what to do with it.”
The connection to the rink from the arena is being financed by a $102,900 loan, plus GST, from the District of Houston. That’s an increase of an earlier estimate of $80,000.
It is for a 20-year term and carries an interest rate of 1 per cent a year with an additional $4,000 a year user fee.
Yeti Refrigeration did the connection work under a direct contract from the District of Houston because of its ability to complete the project under tight timelines, said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.
The company also did the installation work on the arena’s own new refrigeration system.
The arena’s own refrigeration plant was also taken out of service after it also failed to meet standards, setting in motion a long process by the District of Houston to secure the money needed for its replacement.
That project was approved earlier this year with a total cost of $960,000 but was delayed by the late arrival of equipment and the arena’s own ice was not put in until early last month.
The arena’s ammonia plant replacement follows an incident in Fernie in October 2017 in which three people were killed because of an ammonia leak at the local arena. That prompted a province-wide inspection of refrigeration plants with many placed on the list for replacement to meet new standards.