Am­mo­nia leak dis­rupts end-of-year ice events

Gas leak in Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre caus­ing ma­jor headaches for or­ga­niz­ers

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front Page - BY CLARENCE NGOH

The tim­ing of an am­mo­nia leak at the Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre is a cruel early April fool’s joke for the Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey Association.

Club pres­i­dent Stephanie Win­sor said Gan­der was set to host the Easter provin­cials that start Sun­day April 1.

The Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre closed to the public March 28 due to an am­mo­nia leak.

A re­lease is­sued by the Town of Gan­der that day ex­plained that the cen­tre’s com­pres­sors would be shut down to “elim­i­nate any risk to the public.”

With re­pair time es­ti­mated to take longer than the rest of the reg­u­lar ice sea­son, this ef­fec­tively ends that sea­son early.

“Due to the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of an am­mo­nia leak, the Town of Gan­der has taken de­fin­i­tive mea­sures to pro­tect the safety and wel­fare of our res­i­dents,” Deputy Mayor Tara Pol­lett said in the re­lease.

As soon as she was no­ti­fied of the in­ci­dent, Win­sor, the ex­ec­u­tive, and Hockey NL made plans to re-route the provin­cial provin­cials where 16 teams would take part in the Mega-Peewee Provin­cial tour­na­ment be­tween Gan­der and Glover­town.

The de­ci­sion was made to reroute the tour­na­ment to Glover­town.

“It is cer­tainly dev­as­tat­ing – we still had ice time, prac­tice time and house league ses­sions,” Win­sor said.

Safety had to come first and Win­sor agreed that the de­ci­sion was the right one.

The Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey Association, ac­cord­ing to Win­sor, is the largest user of the ice fa­cil­i­ties in the com­mu­nity cen­tre, with an ice-rental bill is be­tween $20-$25,000 each month.

“The association has close to 400 mem­bers and all of them are af­fected by the clo­sure by the loss of prac­tice times, house league hours,” she said.

She also noted a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent took place in 2009, with a tour­na­ment re-routed as a re­sult as well.

“As dis­ap­point­ing as it is, I re­mind peo­ple that it is not can­cer, and not Rwanda,” Win­sor said. “It is safety first and we do what we can do.” No show

The ex­ec­u­tive team of the Sil­ver Jets skating club con­vened an emer­gency meeting as soon as the news reached them about the clo­sure of the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

One of the club’s high­lights is their year-end ice skating gala, but this year, the Sil­ver Jets Ice Show will be can­celled. The event was sched­uled to take place on April 14.

As a re­sult of the very short lead time to the date of the ice show, Boyde said that the lo­gis­tics to ar­range an al­ter­na­tive were not fea­si­ble.

“To hold out-of-town prac­tices would mean align­ing skaters, coaches, parents and ice avail­abil­i­ties all to­gether – an im­pos­si­ble task to un­der­take,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, the tim­ing of the Easter provin­cial hockey tour­na­ment meant that the ice rink in Glover­town is al­ready booked to ac­com­mo­date the change, lim­it­ing avail­abil­ity for prac­tices.

Boyde said ap­prox­i­mately $10,000-worth of items, cos­tumes and ser­vices were or­dered for the event, and some are in the process of be­ing re­funded.

The cos­tumes, how­ever, can­not be re­funded. Boyde said he hopes some will still fit some of the mem­bers in the fall when the club re­con­venes.

The scarcity of ice time will also af­fect five skaters that will rep­re­sent the club in the At­lantics Cham­pi­onships in Nova Sco­tia April 6-8. Boyde said they are try­ing to find ad­di­tional ice time for these skaters.

ADAM RAN­DELL/THE BEA­CON

Gan­der’s Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre shut down last week as a re­sult of an am­mo­nia leak.

Stephanie Win­sor, pres­i­dent of the Gan­der Mi­nor Hockey Association with two of her three chil­dren, Cole and Ri­ley who are en­rolled in the midget hockey di­vi­sion.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

The an­nual Sil­ver Jets ice show is can­celled as a re­sult of the am­mo­nia gas leak in the Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

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