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'Frustrating 2 years': Local curlers are hot to get back on ice

Pandemic, equipment failure have kept facility closed for more than two years; 'We certainly can’t wait. It’s been far too long for us,' says official

After nearly two years off the ice, the Orillia Curling Club (OCC) is set to welcome back local curlers this fall.

Originally forced to shutter its programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OCC experienced further delays due to equipment failure with the Barnfield Point Recreation Centre’s (BPRC) refrigeration system.

That failure limited the club’s season to two weeks last year.

Though city staff ordered a replacement glycol pump in November 2021, supply chain issues have delayed its arrival.

“Supply chain disruptions delayed the replacement pump and continued to present challenges to staff,” noted a city staff report. “The shipping date of the new pump was delayed and pushed back to an early-September 2022 arrival date.”

The staff report stated the September arrival could lead to further delays, so the city sought other ways of getting the curling pad open again.

“Staff investigated alternative solutions to be able to operate the refrigeration system and reinstate the curling ice at BPRC by October 2022, in line with typical operations,” the report stated. “An alternative solution for the glycol pump has been sourced and work will occur in August 2022. Staff expect the system to be operational in time to support the start of the OCC season, Oct. 8, 2022.”

“Staff are taking every precaution necessary to get the systems up and running early to ensure no other problems arise when the system is turned back on,” the report continued. “Staff are extremely grateful for the patience of the Orillia Curling Club.”

While the extended shutdown has been difficult for OCC, club president Don Kinzinger is optimistic about the upcoming season.

“The failure of the pump was certainly an unfortunate event for us. Coupled with worldwide supply chain issues, we certainly were not expecting this much of a delay,” he told OrilliaMatters.

“Having said that, the Orillia Curling Club appreciates the ongoing efforts by city staff to ensure our season will start on time. While this has been a frustrating two years, the OCC is looking forward to our upcoming season and encourages people of all ages and abilities to try our sport.”

Kinzinger shared concerns the previously thriving club may have lost some members over the past couple of years, but said he is excited to have the community out curling again.

“We certainly can’t wait. It’s been far too long for us,” he said. “To be on the ice and to see friends that we've made through the curling community — we're really looking forward to getting started.”

More about OCC may be found here

“We have a wide variety of age groups and abilities, and especially older curlers that come out, that’s a very tight-knit community,” Kinzinger said. “Hopefully, we can get some younger people more involved in the sport.”

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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