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Vermilion ice plant project proceeding with expected county support

While COVID-19 restrictions have put a damper on winter sports in Vermilion, there are good things on the horizon for the town’s ice facility.

Following the extension of restrictions and cancellation of various minor league sport seasons, Vermilion Arena Stadium workers have shut down the facility and are removing the ice out for the season. The shut down would help extend the life of the facility’s ageing ice plant and a recently replaced condenser, but a more permanent solution may be near.

Based on a letter from Reeve Lonnie Wolgien, the County of Vermilion River will commit $500,000 to a new ice plant if the town is able to finish designs and tender a contract for the completion of the plant in 2021. Vermilion Mayor Caroline McAuley says a more formal offer is expected to happen at the next council county meeting and once it passes they will move forward with the project.

“The design is largely in place to replace a 55-year-old ice plant which as you can imagine is not operating as efficiently as it could.”

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McAuley adds the town has already put aside over $450,000 themselves in last year’s budget for the project and several companies have already expressed interest in the project. The funding arrangement along with community fundraising activities could push the timeline forward and have the new ice plant ready by the next season.

“If all goes well, given COVID, I hope to have our ice plant in operation by this fall.”

She says the pandemic may cause issues with production lines for parts of the new ice plant and push the timeline further into the year. It is something the town already experience with their broadband internet project.

The original plant was made with only one ice surface in mind but over the years two more surfaces were added stretching its capabilities thin. On top of being more modern, efficient and made specifically for multiple ice surfaces, the new ice plant will also be safer for those inside the facility.

“This plant will have a much lower level of ammonia and it will be located external to our building. Right now, it’s located internal to our building so the risk is greater if something were to happen.”

The arena, and by association the ice plant, are important pieces to the community as it provides children and adults a place to play, develop their talents and helps generate revenue for the town through economic spinoffs from tournaments and other events.

McAuley says more information on the plant will be shared at the Vermilion Facility Enhancement Board annual general meeting on February 8th. Vermilion area residents are invited to join the zoom meeting and learn more about the future of the facility and fundraisers including another possible “Grow the Ice Plant” land sponsorship.

EDIT: According to the County of Vermilion River council meeting agenda, the county is willing to put forward $450,000, not $500,000.

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