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Castlegar arena floor to be replaced

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The ice floor of the arena at the Castlegar and District Community Complex will be replaced in 2023 to address brine leaks that have been occurring over the last few years.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay says the work will require the closure of the arena for approximately six months, but will be timed to have the least impact on ice users as possible.

“The replacement of the floor is being planned for spring/summer of 2023, so we can minimize the impact of the closure on ice users,” Joe Chirico, the RDCK’s general manager of community services, said in a news release.

The full work plan, including timing, will be developed in the coming months.

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Recreation commission chair Dan Rye says they understand the importance of the arena “and will work closely with the facility staff and management to try and minimize the inconvenience with all the user groups. This is a necessary repair that when completed will have the arena floor ready to use for years to come.”

The RDCK says the ice may come out earlier than normal in March, and the 2023 ice season could potentially start later than normal — in mid-September or early October, versus the end of August.

The Pioneer Arena ice season may be extended, weather permitting. Chirico says that may be possible in the spring, when the weather is cooler, but is much more difficult in the fall as the building is not well insulated and is only designed to operate when temperatures start to fall in mid-October.

For the 2022-23 ice season, any leaks or repairs at the arena will be managed as needed to lessen the impacts on ice users.

The RDCK says the brine leaks may be a sign of arena floor failure due to age. The arena floor was installed in 1976, and has been in operation since. While they say the floor has performed well, it is beyond its life expectancy of 35 to 40 years.

Brine (a non-toxic salt water solution) is the refrigerant that flows through pipes embedded in the concrete. When these pipes leak, the cooling capacity is lost until the pipes can be repaired. The RDCK say staff have made numerous repairs to leaking brine lines, primarily in the floor at the arena’s east end where the brine lines exit through the board footings.

“Until the new cooling floor is installed, new or worsening leaks may still occur, and more signs of floor failure may emerge that would require additional repair or remediation,” said Chirico.

“This could potentially lead to ice closures or may affect the timing of the floor replacement. We will continue to monitor the arena floor carefully in the coming months and, if anything occurs, we will communicate with arena users and the public about any changes in service.”

Chirico says he floor was well built to have lasted as long as it has, but they expect to avoid some of the same problems with the replacement so that it will last at least as long if not longer.

Based on the RDCK’s analysis and the recommendation from refrigeration consultants, the recreation commission originally directed staff to include the cost of the floor replacement in its 2022 financial plan. But after further discussion, the commission decided to move the floor replacement to 2023, based on the performance of the leak fixes to date, and to ensure the replacement work doesn’t impact ice users more than necessary.

The budget for the project is expected to be $1.65 million, including engineering, construction and project management costs, and will be tendered through a competitive process.

Although the project will mean a shortened season for ice user groups, it will have a more severe impact on other events, such as the West Kootenay Trade Show, normally held in April, as well as lacrosse and other dryland events that normally take place in the spring and summer.

Ice user groups were notified Wednesday evening.

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