The ice rink at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex needs to be replaced, and energy efficiency at the facility must be improved.  The options and cost were discussed when Hawkesbury council met on October 15.

The existing system uses R22 Freon and was installed when the complex was built in 1978.  However, freon contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s) which are a greenhouse gas and Canada is discontinuing their use in January 2020.  Only recycled R22 Freon will be available after then until 2030 and then it will also be eliminated.

The town also wants to eliminate the inefficiency of having eight compressors to use at various times to refrigerate one ice rink.  Four of them previously serviced the second rink which has been removed and that space now houses the complex’s multi-function room.

According to Benoit Beauchamp of TST Energy Systems, it currently costs the town $83,000 per year in electricity, and $18,000 for gas for a total of $101,000 to operate the rink.  Out of that amount, 41.3 per cent goes directly to refrigeration.  At present, the arena area has no heat recapture system, which contributes to energy inefficiency.

The three options are a hydroflouro olefin (HFO) system which would cost $1,854,330, a carbon dioxide/CO2 system with a $1,925,520 price tag, or an ammonia system that would cost $2,072,420.  All of those prices include the cost of engineering, equipment, labour, commissioning, and sales tax.

Mayor Paula Assaly and councillors Lawrence Bogue and Raymond Campbell all asked Beauchamp about the possible risks of using an ammonia-based system.

Assaly noted that there was once a major ammonia leak in Hawkesbury.  According to The Review from May 12, 1971, it happened on May 7 of that year at the Canadian International Paper mill when a coupling used to siphon ammonia from a rail tank car into a storage vat broke.  Approximately 3,000 people were evacuated, and 215 people were given medical treatment.

More recently in 2017, three workers were killed due to an ammonia leak in a refrigeration system at a municipal arena in Fernie, British Columbia.  An investigation revealed the municipality was knowingly operating the system while it had a leak.

Assaly also questioned if the ammonia system would constitute an insurance risk for the town.

Beauchamp explained that there are safeguards in place.

Campbell asked Beauchamp which system he recommended.

“Ammonia is the industry standard,” said Beauchamp.

The energy efficiency improvements would cost an additional $266,840.

The next steps council must take are choosing what type of refrigeration system should be selected and then seek proposals from contractors.

The project will also be part of the 2020 municipal budget planning process and council has directed Recreation Director Nicole Trudeau to apply for a federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program grant to help cover the costs.