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Ammonia leak forces cancellation of curling season in Nelson

The sport of curling has been put on hold for the remainder of the season while the club source out solutions. — The Nelson Daily file photo

There will not be any extra ends played at the Nelson Curling Club after an ammonia leak was detected last week in the ice plant, forcing board to call for an end to the season.

Nelson Curling Club president Gordon Wiess told The Nelson Daily the small leak was found during mandatory inspection (Wednesday) February 13th. In the fall of 2018, the refrigeration plant was found to be non-compliant and needed safety documentation to be revised.

Wiess said further testing could not determine the nature of the lead, forcing board to cancel the rest of the curling season.

“Because of (the ammonia leak) we are not able to restart the plant,” Wiess explained. “So, unfortunately, our curling season is done.”

Wiess said maintenance crews are unable to restart the ammonia plant without extensive work to replace or repair parts of the system. The problem forced an emergency meeting of the board, which developed a plan to proceed, but needs the support from the community and general public.

“We will be asking our local governments, The Regional District of the Central Kootenays and the City of Nelson for their help at this critical time to fix our system so that we can reopen for a new curling season in October,” Wiess said.

Weiss said the club is working on cost analysis to fix, or replace, the system and has contacted both local governments for assistance. The club has also asked the RDCK to take over operation of the ammonia plant as well as management of the building.

“We want the RDCK to work with the City, to take over and manage the curling building year round,” Wiess said.

“We want a rental agreement for six months per year, based on the model from the Creston Curling Club,” added Wiess.

Wiess said the Curling Club will support the costs of fixing the plant with all of its financial reserves and any grant money that may be obtained.

Curling has been a mainstay in Nelson for the past 120 years. The sport was played for years in building now used for indoor soccer before its new building was constructed in 1973.

The sport has been on a decline since its heyday of the Midsummer Bonspiel years, when as many as 200 rinks attended the weeklong event. The event, which started in 1945, would inject much needed funds into the club to help keep the coffers flush through the winter season.

However, in 2008 the Midsummer Bonspiel was held for the last time. And since then the club has struggled financially, posting losses for the past three years.

Wiess said in the 2017 “Task Force” for Recreation, it was recommended that the Recreation Commission take over and manage the curling club building.