Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre reopens

The Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre was closed for almost a week while air quality tests were performed after visitors reported feeling ill. The cause was determined to be carbon dioxide, and measures have been taken to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.   Melissa Heald photo

Things are back to normal at the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre, following its closure from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22.

“We’re just pleased to have people back on the ice,” said Adam McLennan, rink manager at the centre. “The rink is a major building in our community, it’s nice to have it reopened.”

The centre was initially closed after those who visited the facility on Nov. 17, reported feeling ill with symptoms including extreme headaches, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

Mr McLennan said most of those who experienced symptoms were at the facility from about 2 pm to 10:30 pm. He noted that he was among those who weren’t feeling well the following morning. Over 40 people in total reported to hospitals throughout the province after being at the facility.

“Chatting back and forth with a couple of hockey players on a minor rec hockey team, we weren’t feeling great, so we decided  we would go in to the hospital,” he said. “At that time, I had made a phone call to the local fire chief, fire marshal’s office, environmental health, and public health were notified. Even before we knew what was going on, we made the decision as management to close the facility. It wasn’t until later on Monday morning when we started realizing there was a number of minor hockey players and parents that weren’t feeling good either, that we knew we had a big issue.”

Around noon on Nov 18, representatives from Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation Board, Public Health as well, and more were on scene. An air quality test confirmed it wasn’t safe for anyone to be in the facility. Going through the centre, the furnace room was quickly identified as an area of concern. The furnace was revealed to be emanating high levels of carbon dioxide, which then spread throughout the rest of the facility. Initially, nitrogen dioxide was believed to be the cause.

After the burner of the furnace was turned off, an air quality test the following day showed improvement. Mr McLennan said staff wanted to go through all systems in the facility again to make sure everything was working properly, along with performing a few more air tests to make sure it could open again in time for the weekend. Air quality reports from throughout the week have been posted inside the rink for those interested in seeing them.

Following this incident, ventilation pipes connected to the furnace, along with furnace nozzles, have been replaced, and an additional vent pipe has been added. There will also be two to three carbon monoxide forecast detectors going in, which will operate as both a detector and a monitor in different areas of the rink. That way, staff know the air quality at any given time inside the rink.

“Another recommendation was we test the air every 60 minutes, so when people that are inside the rink see us walking around with this handheld unit, don’t be alarmed,” said Mr McLennan. “This is just precautionary, we’re taking measures to be extra diligent about our air quality.”

This has been almost a trial by fire for Mr McLennan, who started working at the rink roughly six weeks ago. He said it’s unfortunate that this happened, but called it a wake up not just for the rink in Tyne Valley, but all rinks across Prince Edward Island.

“The rink is a public building and should be a safe place for people to come and be active, be healthy, and enjoy hockey or ice skating,” he said. “It’s definitely a lesson learned, and I think down the road there will be a whole new standard for rinks across Prince Edward Island, especially for air quality.”

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