A second crack has been discovered in the new ice plant refrigeration system at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, and Technical Safety BC has ordered that the facility remain closed until further notice.
City of Port Alberni staff, contractors and Technical Safety BC inspectors worked through the night Nov. 6 to repair the original crack. It wasn’t until a pre-service pressure test of the system was conducted early on Thursday, Nov. 7 that the second crack was detected.
“It is disappointing to see the Multiplex close during its peak season,” said Tim Pley, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the City of Port Alberni.
“The City was proactive in replacing the Multiplex’s aging ice plant and to be faced with a closure in the new system’s first year of service is frustrating. However, the public’s safety is the city’s top priority.”
The city installed a new ice plant in April, replacing its 20-year-old chiller. A leak in a weld on a manufactured flange in the piping system was discovered earlier this week.
The problem has since been classified as a cracked weld on the flange, according to the city.
The leak was first detected on Sunday, Nov. 3 while Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association players were using the rink. Pley said they weren’t in any danger, as the alarm was for a low-level leak, so the decision was made to allow the players to finish their session before the ice was covered.
“We were never in an evacuation situation,” he said. “Nobody was ever at any risk.”
The news was made public on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The Multiplex will remain closed pending further testing and repair of the ice plant’s refrigeration system. Due to the time required to re-install ice in the two rinks, the facility closure is expected to last a minimum of one week and possibly longer depending on the outcome of testing.
The news forced cancellation of the AVMHA’s midget rep Bulldogs’ hockey tournament scheduled for this weekend as well as two Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Jr. A home games.
“Right now we’re trying to support the Bulldogs’ home game Nov. 15 (and Nov. 17),” Pley said. Usually it’s an eight-day turnaround to get the ice in.”
If the city doesn’t receive permission to start the ice chiller by Sunday (Nov. 10), the next weekend’s games will have to be postponed. It is the Bulldogs’ parents’ weekend Nov. 15, where players’ travel from their hometowns to come and watch their sons play.
“If we’re not up and running by Sunday we won’t be ready for Nov. 15,” Pley said.
Although AVMHA and the Bulldogs are the major user groups affected, Pley said seniors’ and women’s hockey teams and figure skating groups have also been adversely affected by the closure. The city’s recreation programmers are looking at future scheduling to see how they can accommodate these groups. While December’s Winter Wonderland public skating event hasn’t been affected yet, Pley said it’s a consideration.
“Depending on how long the closure goes, it doesn’t look like it’s going to go into Winter Wonderland,” but the city is looking at whether they need to curtail Winter Wonderland dates in order for user groups to catch up.
The new ice plant is under a 10-year warranty, but Pley said the city will likely open an insurance claim for the incident depending on what exactly is covered under the warranty. He said he isn’t sure whether the city is liable for costs associated with cancellation of events such as the AVMHA tournament and BCHL Bulldogs’ games.
“We haven’t consulted the rental agreements yet,” he said. “To be honest, we’ve been flat out managing the closure and trying to get back online.”