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Anxiety mounts as Tyne Valley Sports Centre closes for more air quality testing

Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre.
Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre. - File Photo

Frustration seeped into Adam MacLennan’s voice as he rhymed off the steps being taken to ensure users of the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre the air in the facility is safe.

On Monday afternoon, acting upon a recommendation from the province's Department of Environmental Health, the arena board shut down the facility so that more air testing could be carried out.

MacLennan, the facility's assistant manager, said they are acting on a recommendation, not an order.

The recommendation was made once the results of an extensive 90-minute air quality test carried out at the arena on Dec. 14 were obtained.

MacLennan said the results were still in the acceptable range but were higher than the “passed” results obtained last month.

The arena was closed from Nov. 18-21 after several people who had used the facility on Nov. 17 showed up at hospital emergency rooms with respiratory issues, including coughs and headaches.

Extensive work was carried out on the furnace and ventilation system, and the arena reopened after favourable air quality results were confirmed.

MacLennan said the latest tests for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrous oxides in the air were done in response to a recommendation from last month’s incident.

He said the arena has also been carrying out hourly air quality tests and monitoring wall-mounted monitors over the past four weeks. He said those test results have been good.

Provincial burner and boiler inspectors were in the arena on Dec. 17, and an engineer tested the ventilation system. MacLennan said everything seemed to be working fine. He said more air quality tests will be performed Wednesday, Dec. 18.

MacLennan said the Tyne Valley rink has been subjected to more extensive air quality testing than other rinks in the province, and said it is because of last month’s incident.

“I get their point,” said MacLennan. “I get that safety is always the number one priority.”

He predicts other rinks will be facing more extensive testing in the future.

“If it can happen in Tyne Valley, it could happen at any rink across P.E.I. or across Canada.”

MacLennan said the November shutdown cost the rink about $20,000 in lost rentals and in costs associated with the investigation and air quality testing.

That figure is now going to climb higher.

Jarod Colwill, acting president of the Tyne Valley Minor Hockey Association, said he sympathizes with what the rink’s board and its users are enduring.

“We just lost three days, so it really wasn’t much of an impact,” he said of last month's closure, adding he’s hoping to learn more Wednesday about the latest shutdown.

“We’re kind of hoping for the best,” he said, adding the minor hockey association and the arena received “a lot more praise than the negative” for how it handled the first closure.

As with last month, he said the association is hearing from other rinks in offering ice time if needed.

“It’s been fantastic. We’re surrounded by great communities. Other rinks have reached out to us and, if it’s a long-term thing, they’re offering ice times and stuff like that,” he said.

“We’re just playing it by ear. We’ll come up with a plan tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, MacLennan is hoping the arena can reopen by Wednesday evening or by Thursday.

Tyne Valley books between 80 and 88 hours of ice rentals per week.

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