Burns Lake council purchases Freon plant for ice arena

The investment is expected to save the village $60,000 a year.

Burns Lake council authorized village staff to purchase a Freon plant for the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena last week.

The Burns Lake council has been trying to address a significant increase in the village’s recreation department budget.

According to Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake, the Freon plant will result in wage and training savings of approximately $60,000 per year.

That’s because the current ammonia system requires at least one arena attendant with refrigeration safety awareness training to be on site during operation hours, including when the curling rink and the Lakeside Multiplex are open.

This means that since the Lakeside Multiplex opened in 2014, arena attendants have had to stay at the ice arena even when no groups were using the ice, including early in the morning when only the gym is open.

“Wage savings will arise because we will no longer have a need to have an arena attendant in the building while the arena is not operating,” explained Worthing.

The village will also reduce training costs for arena staff because the village will no longer need employees with fifth class engineer certificates, which was a requirement for the ammonia system.

Another advantage, according to Worthing, is that halocarbons, the chemicals used in the Freon plant, do not carry as many safety concerns as ammonia does.

“Ammonia is classified as a hazardous chemical,” said Worthing. “The Freon plant is a less toxic refrigerant than an ammonia plant.”

“The conversion will allow us to run the arena/curling rink and [Lakeside] Multiplex much more efficiently,” she added.

After council approved the 2016 budget, the recreation department developed a request for proposal for the Freon plant. The village received five proposals by closing date.

The successful bidder was Fraser Valley Refrigeration Ltd., with a bid of $376,754 plus GST.

“Fraser Valley Refrigeration Ltd. has been our main service company for the past several years,” says a village staff report. “Their proposal demonstrates their best knowledge of our plant and facility and suggests the utilization of a few current parts to reduce the total cost.”

Although the project will have additional costs – including electrical upgrades and some extra components -, village staff says the project will remain well within the approved budget.

The approved 2016 provisional budget included a total of $600,000 for the purchase of the Freon plant. In addition, the village received $100,000 from the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund to cover part of the costs.