Goose Bay Curling Club’s future on the rocks

Derek Montague The Labradorian
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Replacing cooling tanks could cost $85,000 says club treasurer

The regular season and playoffs are in jeopardy for the curling leagues at the Goose Bay Curling Club. The club’s ammonia tank did not pass inspection, so they had to turn off their ice cooling system in February.

The future of the Goose Bay Curling Club is up in the air after an inspection revealed that the club’s ammonia tank is no longer up to standards.

The ammonia container, along with two other ‘chiller’ tanks, keeps the artificial ice cooled. But, because of the issues with the ammonia tank, the club has had their cooling system turned off since February.

The inspection of the ammonia tank, which occurred last November, discovered a lot of rust on the structure.

A follow up ultrasound on the tank, done by a private company, in February, revealed that the tank wasn’t thick enough to meet modern-day standards.

“The plant needs to be fixed. It’s like having a deep-freeze that doesn’t freeze,” Said Goose Bay Curling Club treasurer, Bob Goulding.

“The tank has some deficiencies in it, like rust. And it’s too thin to pass the minimum requirements now.”

Ever since turning off the cooling system, which, according to Goulding is nearly 40 years old, the club has been relying on Mother Nature to keep the ice cold enough to curl on.

With the recent warm weather, the ice surface has been unfit to play on, meaning that six full nights of curling had to be cancelled between late February and early April. The club also had to cancel four rink rentals in that span of time.

“If you can’t keep the ice surface down to about (- 5.5 degrees Celsius) it gets too slippery to curl on,” said Goulding.

“It has to get down to the minus teens every night and stay cool in the daytime.”

The timing of the warm weather could hardly be worse for the club. The men’s, women’s, and mixed leagues were getting ready to start the playoffs in April.

Goulding says they might be able to finish the regular season, but playoffs are unlikely, given the spring weather forecast.

Adding to the uncertainty is the potential cost of replacing the cooling system. The provincial inspector will soon be taking a look at the two chiller tanks to see if they too aren’t up to code.

According to Goulding, the cost may be bearable to the club if they just have to replace the ammonia tank. But, replacing all three tanks, if necessary, could cost a crippling $85,000.

“We know that we got to replace one tank. One tank has been condemned,” said Goulding.

“There are two more tanks that (the inspector) wants to take a closer look at.”

Goulding is hoping that the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay will pitch in some money to replace the tanks, if the cost is beyond the curling club’s means.

“They’ve been aware of (the situation) ever since the inspector was in town in November,” said Goulding.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay town manager, Wyman Jacques, says the municipality is waiting for more information to come in on before making any financial commitments.

“We’ve asked (the curling club) to go through some options and to let us know… and we’re waiting on that information,” said Jacques.

Even if the situation with the club’s cooling system can be rectified, there are still questions surrounding the state of the club’s facility as a whole.

According to Jacque, an engineering report on the aging building is expected to be complete by the end of April. What the report will discover about the structure remains to be seen.

Goulding claims that, even though the building has a few leaks, it’s still safe to curl in.

“There’s issues with the building but, to our knowledge, they’re not serious,” said Goulding. “The Town might think otherwise and we don’t know what the engineer’s studies have said.”

“We’ve got leaks, yes, but that’s not over the ice surface, so that’s not a concern to us.”

Goulding says that the new town council has, at least, listened to the concerns of the curling club. But, based on past experience, he knows that the club can’t rely on municipal dollars.

According to Goulding, the club has paid it’s own way through membership fees, bar sales, and building rentals as long as he can remember. Without committed curlers and volunteers, he says, there would be no curling in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“It’s all volunteer work, all volunteer money,” said Goulding.

If the curling club doesn’t resume its activities next season, there will be a lot of disappointed people, says Goulding.

According to the curling club treasurer, the sport has gained popularity in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This year, in the three leagues, there were 26 teams and more than 100 curlers, on top of all the people who curled during rink rentals and other special events.

“This is our biggest year ever since I’ve been curling in 10 years,” said Goulding.

“So there’s lots of interest in curling in the area.”

Organizations: Said Goose Bay Curling Club

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Happy Valley

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Recent comments

  • Omar Van Rooyen
    April 08, 2014 - 23:16

    So sad to hear. I curled at the Goose Bay Curling Club in the mid 70s when it was part of CFS Goose Bay. I hope the funds can be found to make the necessary repairs. In 1974 a club team represented NFLD and Labrador in the Brier. The club has a proud history