The Houston Curling Club is currently seeking a partnership with the district so that Houston residents can continue to enjoy curling.
The curling club’s plant failed an inspection earlier this year by Technical Safety B.C., the authority responsible for boilers and refrigeration plants.
According to Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer, these inspections were conducted province wide on most ammonia refrigeration plants in B.C. following Fernie’s ammonia leak, which resulted in three deaths last October.
Following the inspection failure, the Houston Curling Club approached the district hoping to connect the curling rink to the arena’s new ammonia refrigeration plant. Should this not be feasible, the Curling Club will not be able to operate the curling rink for the foreseeable future.
“If the curling club is unable to find an alternative such as connecting to the district system or installing a new plant, they will not be permitted to operate by Technical Safety B.C.,” Pinchbeck told Houston Today.
Ken Amonson, president of the Houston Curling Club, said the club wants to avoid missing a curling season.
“The curling club’s concern is that we don’t want to miss a year because we gained so much interest and support in the past few years,” he told Houston Today. “If we miss a year now it will be a big step back.”
Houston council has recently authorized district staff to begin negotiating with the curling club.
District staff has been investigating what would be required to connect the curling rink to the new ammonia refrigeration plant. According to a district staff report, the new arena refrigeration plant has the electrical capacity to do so, but would require a few modifications to fully service the curling rink.
The District of Houston approved the arena refrigeration plant project earlier this year for a total of $750,000. However, the capital costs to connect the curling club are not included in the current financial plan.
These additional costs include $10,000 in controllers to allow for varying temperatures to be maintained between the facilities, $10,000 for placement of pipes and $60,000 in increased equipment cost.
The total additional costs of these upgrades would be $80,000.
Additionally, electrical charges for the curling rink’s usage would mean a net cost to the district of $4000 per year. District staff say this could potentially be charged as a user fee for the curling club.
According to district staff, one option would be to proceed with installation this year, and treat the full costs as a loan to the curling club, with repayment over a set number of years with a nominal interest rate.
Amonson said he’s confident that an agreement will be reached soon and that Houston will have a curling season this year.
The Houston Curling Club has been in operation since the 1970s. The club services a men’s league, a mixed league, a seniors and juniors club, School District 54 physical education, a few public bonspiels per season, as well as private functions.