The District of Port Hardy won’t be “playing russian roulette with the chiller,” Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick noted during talks of replacing the arena chiller in order to avoid service disruptions.
Port Hardy’s mayor and council erred on the safe side, voting to accept a $295,750 bid proposed by a refrigeration contractor to replace the arena’s chiller. If they hadn’t, the arena could have potentially seen a temporary closure and disruption in services while they were waiting to find grant funding.
Councillors made it crystal clear that shutting down the arena in order to replace a 20-year old chiller is “not an option” for the district, following a brief discussion of the tenders in a special meeting held on Feb. 15. Council motioned to accept the lowest bid with a condition that no new oil separator be included in the project’s scope in hopes of finishing the replacement project by August 2019.
“If we, say, wait for the grant we will not have a season next year if we don’t do anything,” Coun. Treena Smith clarified in regards to hockey season, “but we’ll compromise the grant if we at least start now to make sure we have a hockey season.”
The district had the option of waiting for grant funding to cover most, if not all, of the project’s costs, but McCarrick said that she is not so sure about “playing russian roulette with the chiller.”
Council gave the go ahead for staff to prepare grant applications in case the province issues funding. The province will be divvying out grant funding through clean energy efficiency programs as soon as fall of 2019, McCarrick noted, which could mean timelines might not matchup with the district’s plan.
What could be seen as balancing the already taut 2019-2023 Financial Plan, councillors also grew concerned after receiving higher than normal quotes for a new chiller and its installation, ultimately deciding to opt out of buying an oil separator which would have cost upwards of $33,950.
District staff had already anticipated the need for a chiller sometime last year, having outlined the project in their four year budget, which earmarks a quarter million dollars from the general surplus. Since quotes for the replacement exceed the budget, council has approved for extra dollars from the gas tax fund to cover the remaining cost.
Three companies submitted tenders following a call for expression of interests, noted McCarrick, but out of the trio only two companies, CIMCO Refrigeration and DevCon Industrial, offered their services at a value of $389,500 and $295,750 respectively.
In a staff report produced during the meeting, the district could save nearly $20,000 on the chiller if they go with a smaller heat exchange unit, which means it won’t save as much energy in the long run.
According to the staff report, Eric Bradley, who is a licensed engineer, gave several reasons as to why the price tag may be higher than usual, which included the availability of contractors during their peak business season and installing a larger chiller unit which weighs around 4.5 tons of steel.
The district conducted a test on the current arena chiller in prior years, but after last year’s results came in, Technical Safety BC required the municipality to replace it.
Similar to a past situation of replacing the Fort Rupert Curling Club’s roof, the district was also waiting on grant funding but was ultimately denied by higher governments. The district ended covering the entire cost of the project.
– Thomas Kervin article