Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the Town of Hay River, says work is underway to shut down various systems in the Hay River Community Centre, which has been closed to the public because of COVID-19 fears.
NNSL file photo

The doors were closed to the public at the Hay River Community Centre in mid-March because of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, preparing such a large and complex building for a shutdown of unknown duration requires more than just locking the doors.

Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the Town of Hay River, said work has to be done to leave the building sitting.

Millette said there is “absolutely” a lot to do to close down such a building, which among other things has a swimming pool, arena and curling rink.

All the mechanical systems have been turned off and the ice surfaces have been removed.

Representatives of CIMCO Refrigeration were due in town on March 31 to perform a seasonal shutdown of the arena ice plant.

“That’s a mandatory seasonal shutdown because there is a risk of ammonia leak if we don’t do the full shutdown that they do,” said Millette.

Four maintenance employees are still working at the Community Centre and are continuing the shutdown work required now that the mechanical systems are down.

“It’s more a matter of checking the filtration system in the pool, and checking and maintaining the pumps because, if that stuff sits there for an extended period of time, you could run into trouble upon startup,” said Millette.

The draining of the pool began on March 17, the day after the Town of Hay River shut all its recreational facilities. The ice plant was turned off that same day.

Aside from the maintenance staff, all other employees at the Community Centre are working from home, including Millette.

The recreation director said that, once the essential work is completed at the centre, the maintenance staff will be prepared to back up essential services in other areas of the town.

“We’re not planning on having those maintenance employees continue to work onsite indeterminately,” he said.

Millette has no idea when the Community Centre will be reopened.

“The council directive was to close until April 14 or until further notice,” he said. “And given that things are changing daily and evolving, I don’t think we can confirm anything beyond that.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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