(by Jason Malloy)
The lights are out at the Charlottetown Curling Club, and it is not known when the players will return to play their favourite winter sport.
The normal hustle and bustle of the start of the season was halted recently after the chiller in the club’s ice plant broke down during start-up and couldn’t be repaired. The club’s board of directors let its roughly 200 members know late last week they would not open in 2020, with January being the earliest potential start date, if it can secure the required funding.
Charlottetown Curling Club president Tyler Harris, right, and director Colin MacAulay are disappointed there won’t be any curling in 2020 at the club due to a breakdown in the ice plant equipment. – Jason Malloy The Guardian
“We’re all disappointed by the news,” said president Tyler Harris, who began curling at the club in 1992. “There’s been curling ice in the City of Charlottetown for 135 years, and this is one of the first years since the ’40s (during the Second World War) that there is not. We feel terrible about it.”
The ice plant is 31 years old, having been installed with the help of Canada Games funding before the club hosted the 1991 Canada Winter Games.
Replacing the chiller may cost between $50,000 and $80,000, but club officials are working hard to try to gather quotes and come up with an action plan.
“For us, to be faced with this kind of a capital expenditure is certainly going to be a challenge,” Harris said. “We’re going to be reaching out to the members, community and government to try and create a better product.”
This is not the first time the chiller has been an issue. The club spent about $30,000 a year ago on it.
“We hoped it was going to buy us two or three or four years to address the aging plant issue, but the same problem we had last year came back this year with a vengeance,” Harris said.
The chiller is only one component of the plant, and club officials are going to gather information about replacing the whole system. Today’s plants are designed to be able to be moved, so if a new facility was ever built the plant could be transferred.
The news has some curlers reaching out to neighbouring clubs in Cornwall and Montague to see if there’s ice time available.
“We’re going to try to accommodate them to the best of our ability,” said Peter Murdoch, vice-president of the Cornwall Curling Club. “