MOUNT FOREST – The Mount Forest Curling Club officially unveiled its new “state- of-the-art” ice refrigeration plant installation and start-up last week.
Members of the club and representatives from Wellington North and the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) gathered on Nov. 24 for a celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony for the project, which was completed in October.
“It’s a great, great day for the Mount Forest Curling Club,” said president Doug Rice.
Manufactured by Custom Ice Inc., the RinkMate 30/Freon plant replaces the club’s previous refrigeration system, which had been operating since the early 1960s.
“We knew the end was close,” Rice added.
“Instead of [the facility] being vacant right now, [everyone’s] donations and the OTF money has allowed the Mount Forest Curling Club to increase our membership this year by 35% over last year.” OTF official Mike Walker shared a few words at the ceremony.
He said he was one of 10 people who reviewed the club’s application and decided it was worthy.
“I’m honoured to join all of you today to celebrate your accomplishments as a valued organization in the community, as well as congratulate you on the capital funding you received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” said Walker.
The $146,600 OTF grant to the curling club last November helped make the project possible.
Mayor Andy Lennox then took the podium and began with a saying that “resonated” with him.
“History is not just about the past, history is about telling us who we are today,” he said.
“The Mount Forest Curling Club has been part of the history of this community and it tells us about who we are today. And what I see is a group of [volunteers] who are making an opportunity for the community to come together not only to play and for fellowship, but also to help build our community into a stronger, better place for people to live.”
Putting the ice down
The curling club has been part of the Mount Forest community since 1880, and a new ice refrigeration plant was long overdue.
Kim MacKenzie, ice chair of the curling club, told the Community News that volunteers put roughly 1,000 hours into the project.
“Moving down the road, we’re definitely going to have quality ice. It’s an amazing facility,” he said before thanking the volunteers and ice technicians who helped put everything together and who help maintain the ice.
One of those “ice techs” is Steve Bowier.
He explained to Community News the work that went into setting up the curling rink with the new system.
“We started about the first week of October,” he said.
Technicians began by running a cooling floor brine through the concrete floor.
“That’s why we put a new compressor, it acts like a refrigeration system,” Bowier added.
The temperature of the slab is then brought to about 20ºF and water is sprinkled onto the rink. They keep doing this while adding in the lines and scrape the ice to get it levelled once it is complete.
The process of having to add layers and layers of ice took the ice tech team about three weeks, according to Bowier.
He added that when the previous plant went down in February and the ice started becoming soft, the Harriston Curling Club reached out and offered the Mount Forest Club some ice time.
“It was really, really good. We were able to complete our season [and] have our major bonspiel [curling] fundraiser that we have every year,” said Bowier.