The Quesnel Curling Centre has almost 300 members who are anxiously awaiting a solution to the ice-making crisis. Ronan O’Doherty photo

Quesnel Curling Centre asks to be taken over by North Cariboo Recreation and Parks

Upcoming capital investment projects are too expensive for not-for-profit club to take on

The Quesnel Curling Club is anxiously waiting on the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (JPC) to make a decision after asking to be taken over by North Cariboo Recreation and Parks at the JPC meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

The club, which has been independently operated since being incorporated as a non-profit society in 1953, is in need of a major capital injection after having an extremely difficult time getting their ice maker working to start the season.

“One of our main compressors has let go,” club co-ordinator Dave Plant told the committee.“We worked on it tirelessly for probably about three weeks and finally got it up and running on Saturday, Nov. 2 … but by Thursday [the ice] calved on us again.”

There are two systems at work in the ice plant — a 15-ton unit and a larger 25-ton one, too.

“Back in the mid-60s when the curling centre started, there was only four sheets of ice, so the 25-ton unit did it,” Plant said. “When we expanded to the six sheets, we had to put a cistern in there because it wouldn’t allow us to put the ice in because usually it’s quite warm in September.”

When the larger unit stopped working at the beginning of this season, they were able to limp by with the use of the 15-ton, but it has not been freezing entirely, so they need to make some changes quickly if they want to salvage an already shortened season.

As of six years ago, the club has been working on a capital business program, raising $80,000, but with the cost of the new compressor estimated at $220,000 and the replacement of a 30-year-old tar-and-gravel roof imminent, they find themselves in an unmanageable position.

Plant says they have an application into the Community Gaming Grants Program; however, it is filled out for the roof, so it would not be usable for the new refrigeration system.

Quesnel Coun. Scott Elliott asked if the proposed $220,000 replacement plant would alleviate both plants.

“It would,” Plant answered. “It’s a 50-ton unit that they quoted us on as opposed to the 40-ton combined unit that we have in there now.”

Elliott followed up by asking about the cost of the roof.

“We’ve had three quotes on it between 160 and 170 [thousand dollars],” Plant said, adding all three quotes came in last year.

Lastly, Elliott asked if there were any more projects coming down the pipeline that the JPC would need to know about.

“There are none that are imminent,” Plant replied, “but our floor is a bit wonky.

“When they went to put it in 25 years ago, some of the prep work wasn’t done properly, so it is cracked in certain areas, but we just have to carry a bit more ice in order to get it level. It is a bit of an issue, but obviously it’s something we can work with.”

Plant said estimates for a new floor would be around $400,000.

Coun. Ron Paull raised the question of whether it might be more feasible to replace the whole building if so many projects are required in the relatively near future.

“If you would like to price out a six-sheet curling facility, I think we’d far exceed the three quarters of a million dollars required to do these three major renovations.”

“We’re in tough shape right now,” Plant said to wrap up. “So I’m not sure where to go. As a small organization, we’ve been trying to build up our funding, but we don’t know where the rest is going to come from.”

They will be looking to get an answer soon if the club’s approximately 300 members want to have a place to curl this winter.

“We usually have a two-week layoff at Christmas, and we would like to arrange to have all this new equipment available to us to be able to install it over the Christmas holidays,” Plant said.

READ MORE: Quesnel Curling Centre needs new ice plant to to start season

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