After decades of operation and countless matches, the Elmira Curling Club is getting a much-needed facelift.
Work began last week to replace the cooling pipes and sand used to make the ice at the club, all of which has been in place since the club was first built back in 1965.
“We initially received a Trillium Grant to replace the brine chiller and compressor,” said club president Brian Rainville, “but after we had problems with the pipes, we thought we might as well replace it all.”
The foundation of the curling ice can be either sand or concrete – the latter being more expensive – and a brine mixture is pumped beneath the foundation through a series of pipes to form the 45-metre length of ice.
The total cost of the renovation is about $45,000. It involved the arduous task of removing the old sand – about 45 cubic yards of it – and more than 7,000 metres of pipe, all done with the help of about 20 volunteers.
The club recently replaced the coolant pump and other electrical equipment as well.
“It’s all a completely new system within the last three years,” said head ice-maker Lavern Brubacher, noting the environmental efforts taken to ensure the new ice was as environmentally friendly as possible. The new construction employed recycled plastics, and a local resident hauled away the old sand for use on his farm.
Rainville and Brubacher also praised the efforts of club members and other volunteers who donated their time to help remove all the old sand by hand and, later, helped put down the new pipes.
“We didn’t have the number of volunteers defined. We’re very pleased with the people who came out. It’s been a lot of fun and brought us closer together,” said Rainville.
“It’s been nice getting to know them on a personal level other than just competing on the curling rink,” added Brubacher.
The project has seen some delays, but Brubacher feels the ice should be ready by the end of the month.
The club is holding an open house for new curlers to come out and try the game for free. On Oct. 6 and 7, from 7-9 p.m., certified instructors will be on hand to provide introductory lessons.