Port Alberni’s former fire chief says newer infrastructure at the AV Multiplex means the deadly ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie last week is not likely to happen here.
Tim Pley—now the city’s chief administrative officer—said the AV Multiplex is one of the 65-70 percent of municipal ice facilities in Canada that use similar ammonia-based cooling system to freeze indoor ice rinks. However, the multiplex is only 20 years old, and its cooling system is not close to the public.
“From my past fire department experience we have a good facility, fairly new and robust,” Pley said. “Not only is the infrastructure well set up to protect human life but the ammonia (cooling system) is sequestered, or in a separate room in the building that is ventilated to the outside. There’s no ammonia that passes anywhere the public would be.
“I’ve had comfort not only in the infrastructure but in our processes,” he added.
The city also owns the Alberni Valley Curling Club, which has a similar ice cooling system, but it uses a different refrigerant than ammonia, Pley said.
While Fernie continues to deal with its loss, Pley said other municipalities are feeling the grief too. “It’s tough. Your heart goes out to them,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the families.”
Pley said a situation like this “makes us revisit our procedures and processes. We’ll be taking a look at our procedures…I expect other municipalities across Canada will be doing the same.”
Willa Thorpe, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation and Heritage, told Port Alberni City Council on Monday night that review has already begun.
— With files from Elena Rardon, Alberni Valley News