An iconic piece of machinery linked to Canada’s national pastime is helping to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at local arenas — the Zamboni.
The city has recently been experimenting with a simple change to traditional ice-resurfacing practises, swapping hot water for cold.
City of Kamloops civic facilities manager Jeff Putnam said hot water has traditionally been used as it was thought to produce better-quality ice, with hot water filling in holes and cracks more easily. However, in order to produce that hot water, natural gas-fired boilers are required, producing greenhouse gas emissions.
With no new equipment required — Zambonis are equipped to use hot or cold water — the city first experimented in making the switch to cold water at the Brock Arena. Due to the way cold and hot water affect ice chemistry, the city was required to commit to cold water for the entire season. During that time, the city intentionally did not disclose the maintenance change to ice users, in order to fairly and accurately learn whether the switch would affect ice quality.
Would they get complaints?
“We had no concerns,” Putnam said. “No one even noticed.”
After an entire season without a peep from the public, the city has since expanded the initiative to the two ice surfaces at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre and to Valleyview Arena. This year, the city will look to make the change at Memorial Arena and, possibly, Sandman Centre, after consultation with the Kamloops Blazers and other considerations. As a result of the simple change, the city last year saved money and energy — nearly $50,000 and 1,807 gigajoules of natural gas. The carbon footprint of that much natural gas equates to heating about 20 homes.
It’s not the first time Kamloops has put its environmental stamp on the ice. In 1998, the city became home to the first electric ice resurfacer in the province, which was utilized at Sandman Centre until this year. Putnam said the city recently purchased a new electric Zamboni to replace the old one. He could not provide costs, but conceded it is more expensive than a typical propane-powered machine. However, the electric model costs less to operate and maintain than its gas-guzzling counterpart.
Did you know?
The City of Kamloops repurposed and retrofitted an old Zamboni to accommodate people.
The aptly-called “Fanboni” debuted last fall. Carrying up to eight people, it can be seen on the ice during Kamloops Blazers games. It will also be utilized during community events, such as Canada Day and the Santa Claus Parade.