Not that long ago, they used ladders to hang buckets from the ceiling of Powell River Curling Club because the roof leaked.
The club was near the point of being forced to close its doors in March, but now, with a $150,000 Powell River Community Forest grant for a new ice plant, and a recent provincial grant of $175,000 for more improvements, Powell River Curling Club will stay open.
“Without it, our doors would be closed, there’s no doubt,” said club president Don Mitchison about the community forest grant. “We did not have a backup plan. A backup plan meant closing down and figuring out how we’re going to raise $200,000 over two years.”
An investigation completed by Technical Safety BC and WorkSafeBC, spurred on by the tragic accident in Fernie that killed three people in July, found that the ice-making system in Powell River was not up to standards.
The 75-year-old ice plant was using a similar ammonia coolant to the one in Fernie.
“There were too many dangers involved,” said Mitchison. “That was one of the safety features we wanted, moving to freon, which doesn’t have the same combustible properties as ammonia.”
The new ice-making plant has also improved energy efficiency by 30 to 40 per cent, according to Mitchison.
The provincial grant will be used to continue the club’s theme of being safe and accessible, and a club for the future, said Mitchison. The parking lot will be paved to improve accessibility, emergency exit doors will be replaced, a main level washroom will be built and a new stairlift has been installed to the upper lounge area, he added.
The Powell River club is one of 55 community organizations to receive capital project grant funds for upgrades to community facilities, infrastructure and equipment.
“The Powell River Curling Club is vital to our community,” said Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons. “I’m delighted to welcome new funds to spruce up the facility for our region’s curlers, and look forward to welcoming teams to bonspiels on the new ice.”
The club will be hosting BC Curling North Island Regionals in February.
Curling is growing in Powell River. Mitchison said club membership has increased from about 100 in February to 140, and younger people are getting involved.
“One of the biggest things we’ve noticed is our average age has declined, which is rare in Powell River for any sport or club,” he added. “We have a junior team of teenagers and another junior program with elementary kids. We always say it’s a sport for life. We have 12-year-olds playing. We have 95-year-olds playing.”
For more information about Powell River Curling Club, go to powellrivercurling.com.