The ice is in but remains unpainted pending the completion of repair work to the two ice plants at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre.
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The echo of pucks bouncing off the boards is absent from the Ray McDonald Sports Centre these days. Although hockey season has begun, the Town is still working on getting equipment working so the ice can remain frozen.
Morinville’s Director of Public Works, Claude Valcourt, said the work has been going on since the problem was discovered when the ice was first put in this season.
“The bottom line is the plant is acting up,” Valcourt said, adding the rink has two ice plants, only one of which is now working. “The small plant seems to be holding, but they are still looking for parts to repair the bigger plant and the whole system. Without the whole system you can’t ensure the ice will remain adequate … and hold its refrigeration.”
Valcourt said the ice was now in at the arena but he is not having staff paint the ice until the parts come in. “If the parts don’t come in or it goes down again, we lose the ice a second time, and that’s not good for anyone,” he said.
Parts to repair the 30-year-old system are expected to arrive by Thursday. If everything goes well on the repair work, Valcourt anticipates the ice will be completely rebuilt over the weekend, allowing players to be back on the ice sometime next week.
Valcourt acknowledged there have been complaints from those scheduled to use the arena. “We’ve been trying to keep Community Services … in the know so they can pass it on,” he said, adding alternative ice time is available in Legal. “It’s not the best case scenario. It’s out of town, of course.”
The director said the situation is really beyond anyone’s control and that contractors have been at the arena as late as 1:30 a.m. working on the problem to be able to get the ice ready as soon as possible. “We’re on it. We’re doing the best that we can,” Valcourt said, adding inadequate or melting ice would give the Town a bad reputation and be unfair to the players renting the facility. “We’re going to fix it right the first time and be back in business for good.”
More repairs will be needed
Originally a hanger transported from Edmonton, the Ray McDonald Sports Centre is now 40 years old. As such, ongoing repairs will be needed for the aging hockey arena.
Valcourt said a building assessment of Town of Morinville facilities was done last year. That assessment included the Ray McDonald Sports Centre and its aging ice plants.
“There are issues with the arena, certainly,” he said, adding he will be bringing a report to council that addresses another arena-related situation – the roof. “It would cost quite a bit of money to re-roof. We’re going to fix it and it will buy us five to eight years. We know the whole facility is 40-some years old. We know it’s old.”
The director said there is plan for a new facility some years down the road but those plans may have to be moved up.
Morinville Jets home opener will be on the road
The Morinville Jets open their 2012-2013 season this weekend. The club starts with a road trip to take on the Stony Plain Flyers Friday night at 8 p.m. However, Sunday night’s home opener against the Spruce Grove Regals will now be played at Servus Place in St. Albert due to Morinville’s ice issues. The Jets third and fourth games are road games. It is anticipated the ice plant problem will be solved prior to the Jets next home game, scheduled for Oct. 7.