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They will be throwing rocks at Bally Haly this winter

Middleton Curling Club is hosting the Provincial Masters.

St. John's club says it remains committed to curling, but upgrades to ice plant need to be made before action resumes

There will be curling at Bally Haly Country Club in St. John’s this winter.

Club president Eddie Bearns announced Monday Bally Haly will be upgrading its ice-making plant, saying in a release that the club’s board of directors was “confident the curling facility will be in top shape for the upcoming season.”

According to Kurt Schoenberg, the interim operations manager at Bally Haly, curling orientation  normally begins in late October, with club competition at the four-sheet facility getting underway during the early part of November. He said there was a chance the start-up for rock-throwing could be a “smidgen late,” this fall, with everything depending on how quickly the necessary work is completed.

A professional refrigeration firm has been engaged and officials from that company are expected to begin their assessment this week; Schoenberg said all involve understand the need for the upgrade to be completed expeditiously, but that the main focus is to ensure the ice plant complies with all current regulations.

There has been nation-wide attention on ice plants at hockey, skating and curling facilities across the country since an ammonia leak killed three workers at an ice rink in Fernie, B.C., last year. Aging equipment has since been cited as a cause of the leak.

Since then, Bally Haly initiated a review of its equipment and curling operations, and consulted with Service NL during the process. That led to the determination upgrades were necessary.

That contributed to concerns there would be no curling at Bally Haly this season, especially given a slow erosion in the number of curlers at the club over the last number of years. However, in its Monday release, Bally Haly said it is committed to the sport “at both at the recreational and competitive level, and will continue in the development of players that have had tremendous success at the provincial, national and international level.”

Along with the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s, Bally Haly has been one of the home rinks for two-time defending Brier champion and 2017 men’s world champion Brad Gushue and his rinkmates.

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