Ice Conditions Improvement PlanInitial plan: December 15 2016Update: Jan 10th 2017 Update: April 2017
Ice conditions at Port Moody have been a challenge for years. Our membership have given consistent feedback that the playing conditions at the club are not to the level they need to be at. Part of the problem is understanding the source of the poor conditions, and part of it is having the will and resources to fix the problems. The Board of Directors along with our partners the City of Port Moody have been investigating the problems and have been putting together the resources necessary to solve the problems. We are now ready to start attacking the problems and fixing all of the long standing issues for the benefit of our membership.
The biggest problem with curling ice is getting sufficient high quality ice maintenance by qualified people. To help out our city staff, the board has approved spending approximately $2000 to contract BJ Gagnon of Smart Ice to work on our ice on a periodic basis. BJ will bring his own equipment to perform the job right, and will partner with our staff to maintain the ice with improved techniques. Every opportunity is already taken to train the city ice staff on ice maintenance through curl BC training programs. As a club we will continue to do whatever is necessary to make sure this level of training continues through hosting curl BC training events whenever possible.
Smart Ice attend and mentored our staff during the club championship on March 4th 2017. Most of the actual pebbling and scraping was done by the smart ice staff. The results were spectacular. The performance of sheets 1-4 changed completely for the event. The ice was fast, and stayed fast from the first rock of games to the last, and curl was significantly increased across the whole sheet. Sheets 5 and 6 still had major problems. 5 was sloped, 6 had excessive curl.
The city of coquitlam is offering $15,000 for a mentorship program as part of their transition plan but that money is not likely to be available for another year. After consultation with our partners in the city ice staff we will be funding a mentorship program through the next year.
The three primary elements of ice maintenance are flooding, scraping, and pebbling. Scraping is the process of removing the pebble from the ice to get the ice surface level and prevent pebble buildup from changing playing conditions over time. In an ideal world scraping would occur daily. We have an equipment problem with our scraper. It is old and no longer has a true flat blade. The result is that each time it is used it creates ruts and hills in the ice. The board have saved sufficient funds through aggressive fundraising over the past 2 years to be able to purchase a new scraper. The city of Coquitlam is offering their scraper as part of the transition plan, which is only 2 years only and in excellent condition.
A new scraper at full cost is approx. $15,000. Obtaining a new scraper is our #1 purchase priority. Once we obtain anew one we will have to establish a blade sharpening plan and a funding plan for regular sharpening.
Sheet 6 slopes heavily away from the side wall making it difficult to play on. The city has determined that sheet 6 is at least a full centimeter higher than the sheet 1 side of the building. The assumption is that the new slab is sinking on the sheet 1 side. The city will be hiring an engineer to work on confirming this and stabilizing the slab in the summer. In the short term we have a big problem. To resolve the issue of the slope the ice staff will be putting in a separator between sheets 5 and 6 so that the two areas can be flooded and leveled separately.
Update: Jan 10th 2017 - The work to install the separator was scheduled to occur during the Holiday break in December. Unfortunately the old separators that we had used in the past were discovered to be too badly degraded to be usable. The city has ordered a new separator system. The work for this to be completed as soon as the new boards arrive. The next flood and level appears to be blocked until such time as that arrives.
Update: Feb 28th 2017 - The separator on sheet 6 was installed, and has been successful. Current reports of players are that sheet 6 has been leveled. Sheets 4 and 5 are still facing a significant slope issue. Its prettty clear the issue on the floor is actually under sheet 5.
The rink has substantial problems with frost. One cause of this is the extremely cold temperatures in the rink. We have investigated purchasing 2 additional large space heaters for the rink ( cost approx. $20,000) This is our #2 purchase priority.
Drips from the ceiling are a major problem early in the season until about mid October. The solution to the drip problem is not obvious and investigation of this problem is incomplete. The board has some evidence that the problem with a lot of the drips is the insulation in the ceiling. Most clubs have bare wood ceilings as wood is a good insulator and tends not to collect and store condensation. We will be discussing several options to try and eliminate drips at the beginning of next season, from removal of the insulation, to higher rink temperature, to simply starting the curling season later.
Staff have worked to seal all ducts to the curling space to reduce humidity in the rink, and the bulk of the current curling season since the opening weeks has been completely drip free.
The primary form of maintenance on rocks is sharpening the running surface. Sharper rocks curl more. Sharpening is a very easy process that involves dragging each rock over a piece of sand paper a few times by hand. It is likely that we do not sharpen our rocks often enough and this is one reason in addition to issues with our pebble that we have very low rates of curl. We will be asking our ice consultants for recommendations of when rock sharpening needs to occur, to encourage the sharpening to be done by city staff when necessary.
Our rocks are old and nearing the end of their useful lifespan. The running surface of the rocks wears down with usage and eventually reaches a point where the rocks must be replaced. The longevity of our rocks was reduced by an earlier failed attempt to refurbish the running surface of the rocks on one side to extend their life, and we have since been playing on the non-refurbished side. We do have a few years left on the rocks but replacing the rocks is a major expense we must be planning and saving for (approx. $70,000) . We attempted to get the necessary funds to buy new rocks through gaming grants this year, but despite a valiant effort we were rejected. This is currently our third capital spending priority.
The city of Coquitlam transition plan includes an offer of the rocks. Coquitlam's rocks are in substantially better shape than ours but their rocks also may have the ceramic inserts. We need more information and investigation of what will need to happen here.
Good communications with the city is key to produce quick and effective remedies to problems. We aren't communicating our ice condition problems well to the city. Also the city is not communicating to us when necessary ice maintenance is being done. We believe that effective 2 way communication is the only way to resolve problems effectively and produce good plans for fixing things. The Tuesday league have a pilot project to do surveys of ice conditions after each match. The board will investigate spending money for the software needed to make the results more comprehensive. The city has requested these results and we are trying to figure out how to package the results for their consumption.
This is a lot of work and it is going to cost a lot of money. The costs are not sustainable with our current level of yearly revenue. If we can increase our membership substantially this will help, but other revenue sources such as the aggressive selling of advertising or higher club membership fees will also have to be considered if this additional ice maintenance turns out to be an effective solution. An advertising plan is now in place and we have started the process of selling.
To provide feedback on this plan or to request addition information about the aspects of it, please contact Kevin Perryand Melissa Sim .
This plan will be actively updated and is constantly under review so we can make it better. We all want to see conditions we can be proud of and we are doing everything that we can to make that happen.
President - PMCC