Prescott forced to shut down arena

PRESCOTT – With the skating season about to begin and area arenas beginning ice forming operations, one less arena will be in operation. Prescott town council held an emergency meeting August 21st to formally decommission the ice plant at the Leo Boivin Community Centre.

“It’s a very sad day for all of us in the Town of Prescott,” said Prescott mayor Brett Todd in a release.

The arena was one of two remaining in Ontario with the type of ammonia-based refrigeration system used similar to the arena in Fernie, British Columbia. That arena suffered a breach of the pressurized cooling system which led to the death of three arena workers. The report from that tragedy led to Goodrich and Prescott testing their systems, both of which failed.

“Unfortunately, circumstances involving the use of ammonia in ice plants in Canada have changed dramatically in recent weeks and months,” Todd said.

The town had been developing a plan to replace the aging facility in the next two-to-three years.

Three clubs are affected by the arena closure, the South Grenville Rangers minor hockey program, the South Grenville Rangers Junior C hockey club, and the Prescott Figure Skating Club. The minor hockey program will not be as affected as the other two programs, as that club also uses ice time in Spencerville and Cardinal. The impact of the closure means different schedules for South Dundas Lions minor hockey, with one less arena in the mix.

“It’s really unfortunate for Prescott,” said Ben Macpherson, director of recreation and facilities for South Dundas. “We are looking to see what ice we might have available for them.”

Despite being built in 1962, the Morrisburg arena has had many recent renovations, many involving the cooling system. Most recently, South Dundas replaced the ice pad and piping system.

“The chiller is fairly new, and the compressors are maintained and rebuilt immediately on recommendation from AC Mechanical,” Macpherson told The Leader. AC Mechanical Refrigeration Ltd is the company which maintains the system for South Dundas. “There is zero concern at this point. We are an ammonia-based system, as are a majority of arenas.”

Macpherson added the system is properly monitored and maintained.