Ammonia leak disrupts end-of-year ice events
Gas leak in Steele Community Centre causing major headaches for organizers
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.
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.
The annual Silver Jets ice show is cancelled as a result of the ammonia gas leak in the Steele Community Centre.