Penticton supports new ice plant for curling club

Councillor said city doesn’t have luxury of time to take action

UPDATE:

A special meeting of council will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 22 4 p.m. in council chambers at city hall to ratify the loan agreement with the Penticton Curling Club.

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Penticton city council agreed to make a loan to Penticton Curling Club to help them refurbish the facility’s ageing ice making equipment.

“Our plant is 42 years old and is at the end of its lifecycle,” said club manager Cathy Jones. “This year the plant will need $25,000 worth of work to hope it keeps working for the upcoming season. Last year alone, our plant failed 15 times.”

But repairing the aging equipment, she explained, is no guarantee that it won’t fail, or that they can catch and repair a problem before they lost the ice.

It’s particularly important for the upcoming season, with two major events scheduled, the first being the World Curling Tour coming up in November.

“This event alone is bringing 24 of the top teams from around the world to our city,” said Jones. “Professional curlers will come back year after year if they are playing on good ice. This event can also grow up to 32 teams and we plan to have this event annually.

Related: World Curling Tour event drawing big names

“We have not asked or required any funding from the city to operate this WCT event locally in our club whereas the city has provided funding for the next big event, the Scotties.”

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts, in Jan. 2018, will bring the top female curlers to Penticton, and while the main event is at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the club will be closed to the public so the competitors will have ice available for practice before the big event.

Related: Western News partners with 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts

The work doesn’t come cheap though. The cost estimates Jones gave to city council include two new compressors at a value of $51,4350, plus other repair and maintenance.

Coun. Judy Sentes said the city needed to act on this sooner rather than later, with two prominent events in the offing.

“I am not sure we have the luxury of more time. I am concerned that we are going to be on the showcase, provincially, federally maybe even internationally with these curling clubs and if we don’t show well, our opportunity to do this on an annual basis is very much hindered if not lost,” said Sentes, adding that if there are problems, it will be the City of Penticton that takes that criticism.

Council voted unanimously to start the process of negotiating the agreement to backstop the ice plant repairs up to a value of $45,000.

“We reference the big event, but if the ice is going to fail for that event, it is also going to fail for regular use. It needs to be addressed, not just for the leadup to the Scotties,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit.