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Innisfail replacing arena condenser following evacuation

Ammonia leak will be fixed and Innisfail Arena will still operate until replacement arrives in 20 weeks
MVP Innisfail Arena 2020
The Innisfail Arena was evacuated during the evening of Nov. 22 due to a faulty condenser. The town is now in the process of buying a new unit. The current one will be repaired and used until the new condenser arrives, which is expected to be in 20 weeks. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – The town is moving as quickly as it can to purchase a new condenser for the Innisfail Arena after increased levels of ammonia forced the facility's evacuation during the evening of Nov. 22.

Earlier in the day at town council’s regular meeting, Meghan Jenkins, the town’s director of community services, was successful in convincing council to approve a motion to have administration purchase a replacement condenser as an “emergent expenditure” to be funded by the 2022 capital budget. The cost for the new unit will be $112,700 if the town purchases it before Dec. 9. If not by the date, the cost could be higher, council was told.

Council also heard that the current condenser was a replacement unit in 2014 at a cost of nearly $69,000.

On Nov. 23, the town issued a press release about the ammonia leak that forced the arena's evacuation the evening before, just hours after Jenkins made her presentation to council about the faulty unit.

The town’s release said air quality monitors at the facility detected increased levels of ammonia, a compound commonly used in cooling and refrigeration equipment.

Following the evacuation, emergency personnel, along with service contractors, attended and conducted all required inspections. It was then ruled the facility was safe to re-enter.

Jenkins told council it’s hoped the town will be able to have the condenser leak patched, and without any “significant downtime”, until the new condenser arrives, which is estimated to take 20 weeks.

“We are depending on our professional input, and that is their suggested course of action at the current time, and yes, we are hoping (repairs) will get us through the current ice season before the whole unit can be replaced,” Jenkins told The Albertan on Nov. 23.

The arena will remain open while repairs continue to the existing condenser unit, and until the replacement unit is delivered, said the town in its media release.

As well, the town is promising staff will “remain vigilant” in monitoring air quality. The media release added there is no danger to visitors' health and safety.