Government Funding Brings Icy Versatility To Garcelon Rink

By Rob Patry


Originally designed with the various communities within both Charlotte and Washington Counties in mind, the St. Stephen Garcelon Civic Centre will receive government support to overcome one of the common dilemmas associated with multifunction sporting facilities. The original plan for the design encompassed a full NHL sized arena with a maximum seating capacity of 1,050 people. Also located in the building is an aquatic and fitness area, featuring oversized competitive swimming pool, diving boards, covered slide, along with leisure and therapy pools.  Running track, workout gymnasium, meeting rooms, full onsite restaurant grade kitchen and pro shop round out the building’s amenities. It is the ice rink that brings in the most winter activities and posed the greatest challenge to the Centre. The arena features a 200-foot-long by 85-foot wide ice surface, change rooms, washrooms and shower facilities for hockey games, speed and figure skating, training events and tournaments, as well as a storage area for ice maintenance equipment. Currently, the thickness of the ice surface itself can be adjusted for various activities such as skating and hockey through the use of a computerized ice-making plant and control room. The town of St. Stephen is also investing in new upgraded insulation for the refrigeration system to improve the efficiency of ice making for the rink. 

The problem? The length of time required modifying surfaces from ice to concrete for other indoor events. To host concerts, trades shows, and other main attractions, which could be housed in an interior venue, the issue of ice was a major concern. The amount of work it takes for the surface transformation is extensive as well as costly, but most importantly not time effective. The solution? A high tech synthetic ice flooring or rink conversion cover. The crucial advantage to this type of cover is the fact that it lays on top of the ice, rather than removing and remaking it for every occasion. This allows for faster changeovers and reduced costs associated with the arena conversions. The Garcelon is home to the St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club, so the ice rink is paramount for its “at-home” schedule. With the tight winter schedule, ice removal and alteration was not an option.

Three levels of government will be involved in the funding which will boost the usefulness of the Centre. The new floor is seen as a valuable commodity by government officials since it displays the facility’s versatility in an ever-growing event based market. The arena already boasts highly efficient mechanical components such as a refrigeration system that uses a series of staged geothermal heat pumps to cool down the concrete slab below the ice surface. The pumps are designed to move heat from the slab to the swimming pool areas, where they are used to heat water. Using a rink conversion cover will only add to the building’s efficiency, and in the long run save overall heating and refrigeration costs. In today’s ever changing world, HVAC dollars must be trimmed wherever possible due to the growing demand on event costs. In this case, the Garcelon Civic Centre has made a seemingly wise move and investment, backed by government funding that will ensure a solid future for both local and international events along with a home for the St. Stephen Aces.