The chiller, the heart of the ice-making system at the arena, failed during start-up preparations conducted by the Town and Cimco Refrigeration last week.
“We were preparing for the start of operations on October 1, getting the ice plant started, when the chiller failed, and blew out a section of the unit,” said Nicole Halasz, the Town’s manager of community services.
The chiller is a 75-ton unit that holds and cools the brine that circulates in pipes beneath the ice surface. Replacing it is not a simple task. Each unit is assembled-to-order, and installation will require a crane and, most likely, removal of part of the arena roof.
“The arena is the hub of activity in the community during the winter, so we need to do everything we can to make sure it is up and running as soon as possible,” said Mayor Dennis Brown on Friday. “I am still optimistic we can open by November 1, if everything falls into place.”
Halasz has started working on getting a new chiller. Cimco technicians told her it usually takes eight to twelve weeks to order and replace the units.
“The good news is that they did say we could get a chiller that could be used in the new [recreation and wellness] facility,” added Halasz. “The bad news is that there is no chance the arena will be open October 1.”
The chiller is original arena equipment, and has operated 41 years. Town officials have known for several years that the unit would have to be replaced soon, and earlier this summer Council gave the go-ahead for an application for a $250,000 grant over two years to fund half a million dollars of improvements at the arena and pool, including replacing the arena chiller.
The application is to a federal infrastructure program, and Halasz said the mayor will be in Ottawa later this fall and will meet with officials there to advocate for the application.
In addition to replacing the chiller, compressors and condenser in the arena ice-making system, the application covers new hot water tanks for the pool and arena, a new air handling system at the pool, and engineering studies of the arena brine lines and the pool’s structural beams.
Council agreed to commit $125,000 toward those projects in 2013 and another $125,000 in 2014.
Stantec Consulting evaluated the state of each of the facilities in the spring. The firm recommended about a million dollars worth of work be conducted over the next five years, with the arena chiller and condenser at the top of the priority list for replacement. The chiller has been also assessed as being near the end of its working life in safety reviews conducted by the province.
Stantec estimated the cost of replacing the chiller and condenser at $130,000.
Ice add.: During their visit, Cimco Refrigeration also checked out the ice plant at Little Falls, and it is ready to go for the coming curling season.