Zamboni purchase to go ahead

Despite earlier concerns regarding electric ice cleaner failures at other facilities, Regional District approves purchase

The Strathcona Regional District will go ahead with purchasing an electric Zamboni for Strathcona Gardens following a road block put up by Mayor Walter Jakeway.

The regional district board approved allocating an extra $32,000 to its budget to purchase the electric-powered ice cleaner at its Aug. 28 board meeting but that came with a warning from Jakeway.

Jakeway, who was filling in as an alternate director for Larry Samson, told the board that during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, an electric ice cleaner failed multiple times which caused a 70-minute delay during the men’s 500-metre speedskating event at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

That prompted regional district staff to investigate the incident before going ahead with the purchase.

Russ Hotsenpiller, Strathcona Regional District CAO, said the ice cleaner used at the Olympics was not the same model as the one being considered by the regional district.

“The ice resurfacer in question was an Olympia electric model machine and not the Zamboni 552 electric model as recommended,” Hotsenpiller wrote in a report to the board. “The incident itself had nothing to do with the electric component of the ice resurfacer but rather a malfunction with the lever that lowers the blade to the surface.”

Hotsenpiller said the regional district also approached other communities that are using the electric model.

“Staff spoke to several different arena facilities around the province, including Oak Bay, Nanaimo and New Westminster, all of which are reporting positive results with their electric Zamboni ice resurfacer,” Hotsenpiller wrote. “Other than a recommendation to ensure changing the batteries every five years, all were happy to report that the electric Zamboni responds well and that they have had little to no issues with maintenance or operation of the machine. New Westminster has had an electric Zamboni since 1999 and has since purchased a second.”

That was good enough for the board, which voted to go ahead with purchasing the electric Zamboni at a cost of $149,737.

Hotsenpiller said that replacing Strathcona Gardens’ 1996 Zamboni with an electric model will have a “substantial” financial benefit over the long term.

“The new electric ice machines use about $0.25 worth of energy per flood, compared with $3-$3.50 for propane or natural gas machines,” Hotsenpiller wrote. “On a full charge, the electric machines can handle approximately 30 rink floods. The average ice machine completes about 2,000 ice cleans per year and at a savings of $3.25 per clean that works out to $6,500 per year. With the normal replacement of the ice machine after ten years, that is a potential savings of $65,000. Battery replacement cost is $10,000 and will be scheduled for change after five years.”