The City’s attempt at a quick fix of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre’s broken ice chiller appears to have paid off.
If everything goes the way they hope it will, the ice-making equipment could be in working order again on Wednesday. But only then will a decision be made about when a new sheet of ice will be made.
Workers located the leaking ammonia pipes that are causing the problems early last week and patched the leaks. It didn’t stop there though. The equipment was worked on all week, the ammonia pipes had to be pressure tested several times for leaks, and a new compressor machine was installed.
By Monday of this week, the man in charge of all the repairs, Kevin Brown from North Coast Refrigeration, said that everything was going well, but there was a long list of things that needed to be done before the equipment would be ready to start making ice again.
“[On Monday] I’ll put some ammonia back in and refrigerate the tubes to make them contract to see if any other leaks open up and if that holds we’ll continue from there,” says Brown.
If the pipes make it through that final test, then it will still take Brown and his team two whole days to mix and replace the saltwater brine that the ammonia tubes are submerged in.
Only after the equipment is put back together will the civic centre decide when to try to create a sheet of ice on the rink. But still, the repair means that Prince Rupert will likely get its skating rink back over a month ahead of schedule.
The patch job on the chiller is expected to end up costing $10,000 – $15,000 on its own, but it appears it won’t be the City who will be footing the bill. According the City’s director of Recreation, Rudy Kelly, and the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey association has offered to pay for the repair.
“They haven’t given us any money yet, but they basically said ‘hey, do what you have to do,’” says Kelly.
About 150 minor hockey players and their parents have been forced to travel down the highway to Terrace every weekend to play on the ice there. When the kids have used the rink at home, it’s been for dry ground practice.
The repairs don’t change the fact that the chiller needs to be replaced as soon as possible though and a new one has been ordered and will arrive in early November.
Kelly’s original hope was that the repairs would allow the chiller to be used until after this year’s hockey season is over. Kevin Brown from North Coast Refrigeration – who has been doing the repairs on the chiller – has said that this is not a good idea since it’s impossible to tell when the other ammonia pipes might rupture.
Brown says it’s better if the civic centre replaces the chiller as soon as the new one comes, which will mean shutting down the rink again for the installation. Kelly says that they will do whatever Brown recommends.
“We’re going to defer to him because he’s the expert. If the new chiller comes in and we have to take week or two to put it in, that’s what we’ll have to do,” said Kelly.
The new chiller along with other repairs to the ice making equipment, such as a new compressor, are expected to cost $120,000 that the City of Prince Rupert had not expected to have to spend this year. In council on Monday, the city’s chief financial officer, Dan Rodin, advised council that he will be bringing in a revised budget with the new costs added in.