Eco Ice for Echo Bay Sportsplex

Eco Ice for Echo Bay Sportsplex

Coaches, parents and residents who use the Echo Bay Sportsplex attended a public meeting on Wednesday night to learn more about the new Eco Ice system that is being installed this fall.

Council and staff have been researching options for extending the ice season at the rink over the past several years. Currently the season is short and inconsistent when contending with Mother Nature and an enclosed natural ice surface. Conditions have to be favorable to make natural ice, and with warmer winters and freeze-thaw cycles occurring throughout the season, it's become difficult to get maximum usage out of the facility.

From a company in Quebec, they've found an alternative to installing and maintaining costly artificial ice. According to Eco Ice, "The refrigeration system uses a specially designed compressor/condenser that is connected to 2 indoor super-evaporators with ultra-rapid defrosting power." The system is fully automatic and when the weather is cold enough, the system switches to economy cycle and uses outdoor air to cool the ice.

The insulation and power need to be upgraded before the new system can be installed. The municipality is meeting again in September with Algoma Power to finalize details of having 3 phase power put in. In October, the Eco Ice team will complete the installation. Leisure Services Coordinator Cindy Findlay says, "It will take a couple of weeks to make ice, but we hope to be up and running in November, if everything goes according to schedule".

The Echo Bay arena would be the first in Ontario to use the Eco Ice natural ice system. Although they are popular in Quebec and used in several arenas in Manitoba and Nunavut.

Mayor Lynn Watson expressed his disappointment that the municipality was unsuccessful in accessing funding for the upgrades. "We've applied to both Provincial and Federal funding agencies and have not been successful in the last three years for this or any other project within the municipality."

Michael Campbell has been hired as an intern by the municipality. He is developing a business plan for the Sportsplex and looking at new opportunities to fully utilize the facility and property, year-round. Michael will also be working on a Trillium grant application to replace the arena's sand base with a concrete pad.  Council and staff feel that having a concrete arena floor is necessary, if they want to expand off-season use of the facility.