Published on October 8, 2019

Ammonia Ice Plant Upgrades

Ammonia is a common component used in mechanical refrigeration systems found in ice arenas. The City of St. Albert uses ammonia in all indoor ice surface refrigeration systems. Regular maintenance, prevention and staff training ensure that the systems operate as safely as possible. Health and safety protocols and operating procedures are in place to protect patrons and staff alike.

In 2017, a devastating ammonia leak occurred at an ice rink in Fernie, British Columbia. In response to that event, City staff in St. Albert set in place progressive plans to ensure our community stays safe and protected, so that heartbreak like what happened in Fernie doesn’t happen here.

The City has always had safeguards in place, including regular maintenance, prevention and staff safety training around ammonia ice plants. But after Fernie, the City of St. Albert Health & Safety Committee conducted an internal review of the City-operated ammonia ice plants, to see what else could be done to make the facilities even safer.

Boy skating with adult

Hockey team playing on arena

A third-party refrigeration consultant was brought in and provided a report and recommendations for improvements based on legislative safety code requirements. The report recommended things like upgrades to the HVAC, electrical and mechanical systems improvements, architectural changes, and the incorporation of an Integrity Management System. An Integrity Management System is required to ensure the safe operation and reliability of the pressure equipment in ammonia ice plants and complies with the Safety Codes Act.

The most pressing recommendations were completed immediately. On October 7, City Council approved the final phase of costing and the remaining work will now be completed.

Completing upgrades and improvements to the City’s ammonia ice plants will continue to ensure the highest level of safety and security for residents and staff who frequent the City’s indoor ice arenas. All City of St. Albert ammonia ice refrigeration plants will be updated to ensure compliance with evolving safety codes and operational and legislative requirements. These updates will ensure indoor ice facilities operate in the safest possible manner and service disruption caused by unplanned outages will be minimized. Above all, these finishing touches to the plant improvements will reduce the need for large-scale maintenance over the long-term and will ensure that a high quality of safety standards continue to be met and maintained.


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Last edited: October 17, 2019