The replacement of Eckville Arena’s ice plant has been kicked into high gear thanks to a major grant from the Province of Alberta.
The provincial grant, coupled with funding from the Town of Eckville and Lacombe County, has allowed the Eckville Arena Board to replace the old ice plant with a newer model which will be more economical and environmentally friendly.
Coupled with the replacement of the artificial ice plant, is the installation of dehumidifiers in the arena.
Terry Engin, chairmen of the arena board, says the arena has had issues in the past with access moisture.
“We have had some issues with moisture for a long time, and the earlier you put the ice in, the more issues it creates,” Engin said.
“With the new plant, they kind of go hand-in-hand.”
The old ice plant used in the arena is 43 years old, and many contractors who have worked in the arena have been amazed it was worked as long as it has.
Over the course of the last 43 year, Engin says the ice plant has been repaired and rebuilt many times, though there are pieces that have never been touched.
“We have known for a long time that that was going to come to an end.We knew that we would have to replace it sooner or later,” he said.
Over the last decade or so the Eckville Arena Board has been setting aside funds to purchase a new artificial ice plant.
In that time, the board has been able to raise $106,668.34 for the purchase.
Engin says he is grateful to both the Town and the County for matching the funds raised.
The Province of Alberta provided the other half of the funds, $320,005, for a total project cost of $640,010.
“This is the biggest grant we have received from the Province… We looked at applying for a federal grant, but decided the provincial one more closely matched what we were looking for,” Engin said.
The Eckville Arena Board was notified in January their grant application had been approved, and in early March the dismantling of the old ice plant began.
Engin says the project “snuck up” on the board, as the contractor told them they were available to take out the ammonia on a Tuesday and the next day they wanted to take out the rest of the equipment.
“In about two days it went from being a full room to being practically empty,” he said.
The machinery was hauled away and will be broken down for scraps, according to Engin.
The board has given the contractors a deadline of Sept. 1 to have the new ice plant installed and operational. That is the day when the board plans to begin putting in the ice for the next hockey and skating season.
Moving forward, the board is just looking at getting back to some semblance of normal.
Engin hopes to see normal summer events, like the Bull Arena and the indoor rodeo return, even if they are later than usual.
“What we want to see, what everyone wants to see, is a return to normal, whatever that may be.
“It has been tough, but our board has done a good job, I think, of staying on top of everything. And while we were disappointed to take the ice out earlier than planned, it worked out in our favour because now we can get this work done and be ready for next year.”