Memorial Sports Centre looking for ice plant feasibility study

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Memorial Sports Centre in Fort Frances is looking for feasibility studies on both ice plants at the sports centre in order to be more efficient.

Because both ice plants feeding the two rinks are aging out, Adam Mitchell, asset management coordinator, said they are trying to engage design and refrigeration firms to present an assessment on the sports centre’s ice plants to determine the best solution going forward.

Mitchell said they are looking to go down to one plant, provided it is feasible.

“The outcome of this is that we are hoping that they can engage and give us a report to identify some major areas of improvements,” Mitchell said. “We’re doing some major electrical and condenser upgrades as well. Since we’re going that far down to that ice plant, it’s a good time to look at both systems and see what options we have out there.”

Mitchell said they have identified that the ice plant feeding the 52 Canadians arena has old infrastructure. Using the $5 million grant recently announced by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, Mitchell said he hopes to direct some money into upgrading the ice plants.

“If we’re going to go down this road of updating the two ice plants, why not combine them,” Mitchell said. “We’re really looking for some guidance. We have aging infrastructure and we just want to have a plan in hand when it comes time to be able to upgrade them and what that looks like. This will really give us some clarity and some direction.”

The goal for the request for proposal is to run the ice plants as efficiently as possible, Mitchell said.

“I think the long term objective would be efficiency because energy consumption is huge. I’m sure there’d be capital costs with that. But we’re just trying to identify if that’ll be part of it.”

For example, the sports centre uses ammonia gas to run the ice plants right now. In order to be more efficient, new technologies use carbon dioxide gases. Besides being more efficient, carbon dioxide is a much safer gas to work with than ammonia, Mitchell added.

With the Ice for Kids arena being installed in the early 2000s and assuming it has a 25-year life expectancy, it is approaching the end of life, Mitchell said.

Mitchell added that although this is not an urgent project, updating the aging ice plants is an inevitable project the sports centre will undertake in the near future.

Mitchell said since they have identified that the 52 Canadians arena needs major upgrades to its control system, they will shoot two birds with one stone and see what the recommendations are for the ice plants.

In the very least, Mitchell said, this report will provide recommendations on how to see immediate improvements. Whether that means combining the two ice plants into one or just doing some upgrades, Mitchell said he is anxious to see how they will move forward.

A requirement for any proposal to be considered is to show the town how much money they can save with their feasibility study, Mitchell added.

“We’re always planning and we’re always doing our best to come up with how we want to make long-term plans on how we should be maintaining our facilities,” Mitchell said. “The memorial Sports Centre is a very important piece of the assets that we own and a very important piece of the community so we just want to make sure that we’re always planning the next steps.”