An ammonia leak at an ice rink in Fernie last fall caused the death of three people.
A subsequent regulatory review and facility inspections across the province by the BC Safety Authority and WorkSafe BC has led to the Kelowna Curling Club being ordered to replace their rink’s ice chiller unit.
The mandatory request must take place as soon as possible, leading the curling club to seek financial assistance from Kelowna city hall.
The unit replacement price-tag is $300,000, with the city committed to cover half the cost pending a grant application to the community gaming grants branch to off-set the remaining 50 per cent.
Of that $150,000 commitment from the city, $50,000 would be a non-repayable contribution.
As well, the curling club also needs to replace the Recreation Avenue rink roof, which has been leaking since last year.
Projected replacement cost for that is $300,000, earmarked to be done before adverse weather sets in this fall.
City council agreed to a staff proposal to provide a loan up to $300,000 maximum, at an interest rate of 2.75 per cent, to ensure both these projects are completed.
Payments will be semi-annual over a five year term for the upgrades to the curling rink, which is owned by the city but operated by the curling club through a long-term lease, up for renewal Dec. 31, 2023.
Revenues for the curling club have increased from $575,583 in 2013 to $897,580 in 2017, and expected to cross the $1 million plateau for this current fiscal year.
“The curling club continues to grow and is currently in a healthy financial situation,” said Jim Gabriel, City of Kelowna division director, active living and culture.
Coun. Brad Sieben supported the financial assistance but echoed concerns about spending more money in the future on an aging facility built in 1978.
Gabriel said the biggest ticket item for replacement in the curling rink would be the floor, while another consideration is the long-term future of the facility in its current location.
“Some systems will need upgrading moving forward and they can be worked on within the capital plan priorities, but if we need to replace the floor that will require more conversations as that is a big cost item for the club to look after,” Gabriel said.
Part of the future for the north end location of the curling rink involves creating larger park space.
“There several aging facilities in that area right now, and where the curling rink should be located is a bigger question we don’t have to answer right now, but it is on our radar looking to the future,” Gabriel said.
“There might be economies of scale arising where a curling facility can be added to another infrastructure where there can be a sharing of things like ice plant equipment to help defray operating costs.”
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