Hawkesbury council has decided what it does not want in a new arena refrigeration system at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex.

On October 28, council decided against installing an ammonia refrigeration system for the rink.

The town is planning to replace the existing R22 Freon system, which was installed when the complex was built in 1978.  Freon contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s) which are a greenhouse gas and Canada is discontinuing its use in January 2020.  Recycled R22 Freon will be available until 2030, and then it will also be discontinued.

On October 15, Benoit Beauchamp of TST Energy Systems presented council with three options for a new system.  They 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.

Councillors Yves Paquette and Antonios Tsourounakis spoke against purchasing an ammonia system.  Each of them expressed concerns about safety and said there is no particular advantage to it over the other options.

In 2017, an ammonia leak killed three workers at a municipal arena in Fernie, British Columbia.

“It’s a question of security,” said Paquette, who noted the arena is located near a school.

“I am not for ammonia” said Councillor Robert Lefebvre, who referred to a serious ammonia leak that took place in Hawkesbury many years ago.

That incident happened on May 7, 1971 when ammonia was being transferred from a railway tank car to a storage vat at the former Canadian International Paper mill.  Approximately 3,000 people were evacuated, and 215 people were given medical treatment.

Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Gatien said additional research is necessary and recommended eliminating the ammonia system as an option.  He also noted that the town is applying for a federal grant to help cover the costs of the new system.

Recreation and Tourism Director Nicole Trudeau said that the TST Energy Systems report was only preliminary and no specific system had to be selected immediately.

The new refrigeration system for the Robert Hartley Sports Complex will also be part of the town’s 2020 budget preparation process.

One of the other considerations for which systems to select and when to install it is the 2021 Fred Page Cup junior hockey championship which will be held at the complex.