An anonymous donor stepped up to make sure the Sicamous Eagles, and taxpayers, weren’t hung out to dry after the hockey team’s late-night gear-drying routine was found to be in contravention of a 2017 Technical Safety BC order.
The mystery benefactor donated $6,000 to the Eagles, the local not-for-profit Junior B squad, for the creation of a storage facility to dry the team’s gear in.
Following away games, the team used to dry and store its gear in the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre after staffed hours. This season, the rec centre is under new management and that practice is no longer allowed.
The Sicamous and District Recreation Centre Society managed the centre from its opening until June 10, 2021. The District of Sicamous applied to manage the centre — which is owned by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) — but did not win the management contract.
Ontario-based Nustadia Recreation Inc. won the five-year contract and will manage the centre until June 10, 2026. The company will have the option to extend for an additional five years, subject to CSRD budget approval.
Darcy Mooney, operations manager for the CSRD, said a Technical Safety BC order is the reason the Eagles can no longer access the rec centre after staffed hours to dry their gear. However, Mooney said the Technical Safety order is not new.
“When the CSRD realized that was happening, fairly recently, with the new management firm, we reached out to Technical Safety BC to confirm that it wasn’t allowed,” said Mooney.
“It does date back a number of years, the provision is simply that when the ammonia ice plant is running, you can’t have anybody in the facility unless a certified refrigeration technician is present.”
On Dec. 22, 2017, Technical Safety BC issued a safety order, part of which states: “The owner of a refrigeration plant within the scope of this safety order shall not authorize or allow the refrigeration plant to be in operation… unless the plant is under constant supervision by an appropriately qualified person, that is in control of the plant and present on site within the immediate vicinity of the plant at all times when the plant is in operation.”
That safety order, and other regulations, came two months after the tragic death of three arena workers due to an ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
The Eagles had originally asked the District of Sicamous for help finding a gear-drying solution, and operations manager Darrell Symbaluk got a quote on a shipping container he said public works could convert into a storage and drying facility for about $6,000. The shipping container would be placed next to the Eagles’ Nest, where the team resides (next to the rec centre).
Sicamous town manager Evan Parliament is a volunteer with the Eagles. He’s dismayed the Eagles don’t have the same access they had before.
“Now they’re asking the taxpayers to come up with funds so the kids can dry their equipment,” said Parliament at the Oct. 13 District of Sicamous council meeting. “I think that’s so wrong when there’s space available in the rec centre.”
Coun. Gord Bushell said the access issue is a reason the district should have won the rec centre management contract, rather than an out-of-town company from Ontario. He said the district should take $6,000 from its yearly remittance to the CSRD to fund the storage facility.
Kelly Bennett, Sicamous’ chief financial officer, said while Sicamous should not do that, a conversation with the CSRD would be beneficial. She said Sicamous could fund the storage facility with taxation surplus, as the COVID-19 pandemic had lowered the district’s operating expenses some.
“There’s room in the operating budget if there’s a resolution to support it,” said Bennett at the Oct. 13 meeting.
A resolution for the district to spend up to $8,000 on a shipping container for the Eagles was passed unanimously.
The following day, Oct. 14, the District of Sicamous put out a news release announcing it had received the $6,000 donation for the creation of the storage facility.
“The District of Sicamous would like to thank the charitable Sicamous citizens who have shown tremendous team spirit for our community’s non-profit hockey club. Go Eagles!” wrote the district.