The old refrigeration system at Strathcona Gardens is being decommissioned and replaced by a new, more efficient one. Photo, SRD

Campbell River arena first to switch to carbon dioxide from ammonia

Work to decommission refrigeration system at Strathcona Gardens now underway

The refrigeration system for the arena at Strathcona is getting a complete upgrade.

The old ammonia system is being replaced by one that will use carbon dioxide (C02) to produce ice for the two rinks inside Strathcona Gardens.

The new carbon dioxide refrigeration system is part of the $4.6-million energy efficiency upgrade work funded through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

The Strathcona Regional District, which operates the facility, points to concerns for the environment, energy efficiency and safety as reasons to switch carbon dioxide system, as it is now recognized as a superior option to synthetic refrigerants for these purposes.

The gas is a natural, non-toxic and non-flammable, and the system is described as having no-net greenhouse effect. The switch from an ammonia-based refrigeration system to a carbon dioxide will make the Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex the first facility in the province to make the conversion.

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The ice sheets at the complex came out in April, with Arena #2 at the beginning of the month, and the Rod Brind’Amour Arena at mid-month following the Cyclone Taylor Cup. With the ice gone, the contractor for the replacement of the refrigeration system, CIMCO, recovered all the ammonia and is currently decommissioning and removing the retired refrigeration plants.

“The aggressive project schedule has the contractors diligently working towards the first sheet of ice being open for programs and ice bookings, July 19, 2019,” manager of arena and facility operations Trevor Fritz said in a news release. “Staff are not currently anticipating a delay of opening. However, like any other renovation or construction project, there are a number of variables and influencing factors that can happen along the way. Some of these factors can include cross-border shipping delays or receiving other vital parts or equipment in time.”

An energy retrofit to the boilers and domestic hot water system is set to begin the middle of June. With the installation of the new boilers and the heat claim on the CO2 system, the facility will have the ability to capture as much energy as possible from both ice plants and use it efficiently in other areas of the facility.