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No curling in the fall if Nelson club can’t make costly ice plant repairs

The Nelson Curling Club says $422,000 in work is required
Local curlers play a game Jan. 26 at the Nelson Curling Club. The facility needs to raise $422,000 to make necessary repairs to its ice plant. Photo: Tyler Harper

The Nelson Curling Club says if its ice plant doesn’t receive over $400,000 in repairs by October it won’t have a fall season.

Club president Kristina Little said the ice plant requires a new condenser, compressor and brine pump at a total cost of $422,000, which is money the club doesn’t have.

“We have a very good business model if we were just looking after the business of curling, but looking after the plant is just too financially challenging,” said Little.

The club’s original refrigeration system has been in use since the facility was built in 1973. Little said it has received various repairs over the years, such as in 2019 when two ammonia leaks forced the shut down of the building and an early end to the curling season.

But those repairs have been essentially duct tape on an ice plant that Little says is 20 years past its life expectancy.

“Now at this point, we’re looking at it like what do we need to do to get our plant to the point where we’re not going to have to do any repairs for the next 20 years, and then we can look at a long-term sustainability plan.”

What that plan looks like will need to be partially answered by the City of Nelson, which owns the club’s building at 302 Cedar St., and perhaps even the Regional District of Central Kootenay, which operates an ice plant next door at the Nelson and District Community Complex.

Mayor Janice Morrison said Monday the ice plant’s repair expenses, as well as the future of the rink, will be included among the topics discussed during this year’s strategic planning and budget talks.

“We’re in the budget process, we’re aware [the club] probably can’t take on that kind of financial responsibility and we’re in discussions with them.”

Who is ultimately responsible for the building has been a simmering issue for nearly a decade.

The club built the facility in 1973, sold it to the city in 1994 and signed a 20-year lease agreement that put the onus of all costs on the club. But that lease expired in 2014, and there’s been no renewal in the interim.

The club’s board of directors has previously requested the regional district take over management of the ice plant, and has said the installation of a concrete floor would allow it to bring in revenue by hosting off-season events.

When the 2019 ammonia leak occurred, the city chipped in $30,000 of the approximately $70,000 cost to repair the ice plant. But no other renovations have taken place since.

It’s also been suggested that the city consider other uses for the building. Councillor Keith Page said in May 2019 that it could be repurposed to address the city’s housing needs.

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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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