It's rare to reach the beginning of October and find no ice surface at Bay Arena in Bay Roberts. By morning Oct. 2, the problem had finally been solved and ice making got underway. But according to the municipality's recreation director, they were lucky it didn't go on longer.
Addressing council at the Oct. 8 regular meeting, Ian Flynn offered a detailed account of what went wrong at the stadium. As part of the summer maintenance plan, the town decided to service two compressors at Bay Arena, changing some lines leading to a condenser system and sprinkler heads.
"We fired up the system, and that's when we discovered we had issues with the gaskets (a mechanical seal) in the condenser system. So July 8, we ordered the gaskets, which took six weeks to get here," Flynn explained.
After installing the gaskets, the system was switched back on in early August. At this point, the town discovered the plates the gaskets attached to had pinhole leaks and needed replacing. The new plates were ordered and manufactured in Sweden.
The plates were due to arrive on the final Friday of September, with Service NL booked to be at Bay Arena the following Monday to give its stamp of approval. Unfortunately, the plates didn't arrive until that Monday, forcing the town to try and postpone the meeting with Service NL until the next day, Oct. 1. That almost didn't happen, as Service NL staff had other appointments lined up and the earliest available one would be Oct. 24. With some persistence, Flynn said the town was able to get them to come to the stadium on the Tuesday.
"There was a lot of coordination behind the scenes to get the stadium to where it is today," the recreation director said, adding it all could have been worse if the town didn't check on the system when it did.
"The part that was replaced, it's not a part of our summer maintenance plan. It's a hidden part that you wouldn't discover until (the condenser system) is fired up, so we were glad we fired up the system in July and we didn't fire it up in September, because we would've been in a whole lot more trouble than we are now."
Activities were officially back to normal at the rink Oct. 7, with a full schedule of ice time booked and used. The stadium underwent additional renovations in recent months, with some new interior painting and a new sound system among the highlights. Flynn said a proposal will also be submitted to the province to make the entrance wheelchair accessible. If approved for funding, Flynn hopes to have that work completed in time for the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games next August. In addition to its planned use for ball hockey, Bay Arena will serve as the venue for both the opening and closing ceremonies at the games.