District forges ahead with ammonia plant replacement

Now looking for project bids

The District has revived the project based on a revisedbudget projection of $816,072. (Shiela Pepping photo)

The District has revived the project based on a revisedbudget projection of $816,072. (Shiela Pepping photo)

Tenders close April 24 on a key District of Houston project scheduled for this year — the replacement of the aging ammonia plant at the arena.

First planned for last year, the project was put on hold when bids received exceeded the budget that was set out.

But now through grants of various kinds received and anticipated, the District has revived the project based on a revised budget projection of $816,072.

More than half of that amount is coming from federal gas tax rebates provided to the District with $90,000 coming from the Dungate Community Forest Limited Partnership.

District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck said the District has applied for an additional $250,000 grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust’s Diversification Infrastructure program to help meet the anticipated budget.

A tender has also been put out for a building envelope expansion with the same closing date of April 24 and both will be evaluated after closing, Pinchbeck added.

“Once we have selected a contractor to carry out the works, we will have a better understanding of the timeline for this project,” he said.

The cost estimate includes work needed to connect the ammonia plant to the adjacent curling club. Its own ammonia plant was taken out of service last year and the club has now done work within its facility in preparation for connecting to the new arena plant.

The current refrigeration plant at the arena is 40 years old and needs to be replaced.

A replacement plan for a more efficient and safer plant was crafted when inspections of ammonia refrigeration plants were carried out province-wide following a leak at the Fernie arena in October 2017 which claimed three lives.

In the interim, the District has eliminated parking and pedestrian access to the area adjacent to the existing refrigeration plant room, updated its emergency response procedures and developed a contingency plan for any potential emergency ammonia release.

The curling club’s plant, after an inspection last year, was shut down after found wanting.

Club members have installed new piping and associated works at their facility and are now awaiting the connection with the intention of resuming curling the next season.

That connection is forecast to cost in the $80,000 range with the District treating the figure as a loan to the curling club and recouping it over time.