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Hockey games at Rotary Place cancelled due to concerns about legionella bacteria

Arena's cooling tower has been shut down by health unit; While it is 'safe to attend events and programs,' the shutdown impacts refrigeration equipment
rotary place outside
The city has decided to cancel all hockey games and practices this weekend. The arena's cooling tower has been shut down by the health unit amid concerns about levels of legionella bacteria. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters

All hockey games and practices at Orillia's Rotary Place have been cancelled immediately and for the duration of the weekend.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) recommended the city shut down the cooling tower at Rotary Place after test results received on Thursday indicate higher than normal levels of the legionella bacteria in the tower.

Health unit officials stress the public is safe at or around Rotary Place.

“At this time it is safe for people to attend events and programs at Rotary Place while the building’s water cooling system is being cleaned and disinfected,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the health unit's Medical Officer of Health.

The cooling tower is being shut down for cleaning and disinfecting. The SMDHU will conduct another test on Sunday.

At this time, it is unknown if the strain of legionella bacteria found at Rotary Place matches the strain associated with the confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease in Orillia.

“We have been working closely with the health unit since the Legionnaire’s disease cluster was identified in Orillia. I want to reiterate the health unit’s message that it is safe for people to continue to use Rotary Place as we carry out further cleaning and disinfecting of the cooling tower,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

The cooling tower at Rotary Place is part of the refrigeration system required to keep the ice surface in good condition. To maintain the ice, the city is lowering the temperature of the building  - that means all programming will be cancelled for the weekend.

Among the cancellations is the much-anticpated first-place showdown between the Jr. C. Orillia Terriers and Stayner originally planned for Saturday night.

According to a press release from the city, all municipally-owned cooling towers were proactively disinfected as of Tuesday, Oct. 22 while the city awaited the results of samples retrieved as part of the SMDHU Legionnaires’ disease investigation. The City of Orillia also has a routine maintenance program for its cooling towers.

According to the health unit, nine cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed in the cluster.

The source of the legionella bacteria responsible for the cluster of illnesses has not been identified. The health unit advises that most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill; however, anyone who has a headache, muscle aches, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

The health unit’s website states that Legionella bacteria is commonly found in natural freshwater environments; however it can become a health concern in water systems, such as cooling towers.

People can develop Legionnaires’ disease when they inhale aerosolized water droplets containing the bacteria. However, most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. People cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water and it cannot be passed from person to person.


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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