Waterford arena closed early

Ice-making refrigeration unit shut down

The ice is coming out of the Waterford Arena early this year due to faulty refrigeration equipment. User groups were informed of the disruption Thursday. KIM NOVAK Postmedia

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WATERFORD — Hockey and figure skating officials are scrambling to make alternative arrangements now that Norfolk County has shut down the Waterford Arena.

The ice in Norfolk arenas normally comes out around the end of March.

However, the ice is coming out early in Waterford due to an equipment failure. Specifically, the county will have to install a new refrigeration unit before ice-making resumes in the fall.

“The unit there is 15 years old, and that’s about the life-span for them,” Bill Cridland, Norfolk’s general manager of community services, said. “We’re hopeful we can honour everyone’s ice time. But they may have to go to Port Dover or Simcoe.”

The condenser unit in Waterford is located outside the arena. A gauge recently alerted staff to a refrigerant leakage outside the building and a technician was brought in to make a repair.

The same repair company recommended that the county shut down the arena after a second leak was detected this week. The county has been told the unit is corroded and too far gone for a proper repair.

County staff explained the situation to user groups Thursday. The community services department is working with them to co-ordinate ice time at other county arenas.

The situation doesn’t disrupt Waterford and District Minor Hockey’s participation in provincial playdowns because the town’s rep teams were eliminated in the first round.

However, the association will have to decide whether the Nelson Emerson Novice-Atom Tournament goes ahead the weekend of March 22 as planned. As well, officials have to decide whether The Nelson Emerson Peewee-Bantam Tournament is held as scheduled the weekend of March 29.

“It sucks because the kids were looking forward to the fun practices that we normally hold for them toward the end of the season,” WDMHA president Dwayne Schira said Friday.

“The county will give us options. We just don’t know what those options are at this point. This situation was out of the county’s control. I’m sure next season we’ll be back in full swing.”

The Waterford Skating Club will re-locate practices and rehearsals to Port Dover or Simcoe. However, the disruption is a lot less than what it could have been because the club scheduled its annual spring carnival for Talbot Gardens in Simcoe this year.

The club did so because it is bringing in three-time world skating champion Elvis Stojko as a guest performer.

The event April 6 is titled Golden Memories in honour of the club’s 50th anniversary. Talbot Gardens was selected as the venue because it accommodates more spectators than the facility in Waterford.

Jennifer Bard, president of the 90-member skating club, says the impact would’ve been more severe had the carnival not been relocated to Simcoe.

“It’s a nice co-incidence that it happened this way,” Bard said. “The big thing now is letting parents know where we’ll be practising. Between now and the carnival it will be a bit of a Tour-de-Norfolk for our skaters. Their parents will have to do a little extra driving around.

“That’s the big thing right now – letting parents know where we’ll be practising. But everything is a go. We’ll be ready to skate April 6.”

The Waterford Skating Club has 90 members.

Cridland said a new refrigeration unit will cost the county about $150,000. A replacement could take several months to install given the requirements of Norfolk’s tendering process.

This is the second time in three years that a facility failure has disrupted arena time in Norfolk.

At the end of February, 2017, large sections of the seating area at Talbot Gardens were declared off-limits to the public due to concerns over the structural integrity of the facility. Corrective measures have since been taken.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

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