Zamboni irks Jakeway

Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway questions the need for a new, more expensive zamboni at Strathcona Gardens

Strathcona Regional District directors will move forward with purchasing an electric zamboni for Strathcona Gardens despite some skepticism from Mayor Walter Jakeway.

The board voted in favour of upping its budget and spending an additional $32,000 on a new, electric-powered ice cleaner despite objections from Jakeway who was filling in for Director Larry Samson at the Aug. 28 board meeting.

Jakeway recalled that during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, an electric zamboni failed multiple times causing a 70-minute delay in the middle of the men’s 500-metre speedskating event at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

“I just remember that there was a big hurry during the Vancouver Olympics to find a conventional ice machine when the electric one bought for some 2010 Olympic facilities failed,” Jakeway said.

“I don’t believe in paying significant extra tax dollars for an electric ice machine when it will never pay out and is not used for long durations. I see it as a gimmick.”

Regional district staff, however, see it differently.

Lorne Parker, operations manager at Strathcona Gardens, said an electric zamboni could save $65,000 a year.

He figures that, on average, there are 2,000 ice cleans performed each year and the electric model is expected to save $3.25 per clean, which equals $6,500 per year in savings, or $65,000 over its expected 10-year life span.

The zamboni’s battery is good for five years and costs $10,000 to replace but Parker said going electric will reduce maintenance costs.

“The main consideration with electric models is the reduction in operating expenses,” Parker wrote in a report to the board. “Repair and maintenance costs for electric machines are significantly less.”

It should be noted that the Regional District is looking to purchase a Zamboni 552 whereas the ice cleaner that caused problems at the Olympics was an Olympia machine.

But Jakeway isn’t convinced.

He also questions the need to replace the current ice cleaner which regional district staff say is nearing the end of its life expectancy.

“I am hoping there were solid facts presented justifying that the existing machine is at the end of its life,” Jakeway said.

“Ice machines are only used nine to 10 months per year so saying it is 10-years-old is somewhat misleading. It is not operating in a harsh environment. With my industrial background, I am skeptical.”

Other directors did take Jakeway’s concerns into consideration last week.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh put forward a motion that the matter of the 2010 Olympic electric zamboni failures be referred to the Strathcona Gardens Commission for further investigation.

That motion passed, but with directors Andy Adams, Craig Anderson and John MacDonald opposed.