Pearkes arena’s new electric Zamboni will create fewer carbon emissions which aligns with Saanich’s sustainability goals. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich swaps last propane-powered Zamboni for electric model

Pearkes arena’s all-electric ice resurfacing fleet to reduce carbon emissions by six tonnes

The Pearkes arena traded in its last propane-powered ice resurfacing machine for a greener model.

The arena’s more eco-friendly electric Zamboni-brand ice resurfacing machine hit the ice this week in Saanich.

The new Zamboni looks the same at the old ice resurfacers, requires similar maintenance and is operated in the same way, explained Pearkes arena manager Graham Thomson.

The only difference is that instead of gassing up, the machine contains a large battery that can be plugged into a wall-mounted charging block.

READ ALSO: Saanich adds to green rink resurfacing fleet at Pearkes

Staff can get through the majority of the day – about 15 ice cleans – on a single, overnight charge, but the Zamboni is typically plugged in for “short boost charges” between uses to extend the battery life.

The battery also makes the machine much quieter than the propane-powered models.

“You don’t get that ‘vroom’ when you start it,” Thomson said emulating a gas-power machine revving.

While the machine itself will age like the average car, the large, rechargeable battery inside has a five to ten-year life span, depending on how often it’s used, Thomson explained.

The arena also uses an electric ice-edger to clear the parts of the rink that the Zambonis can’t reach.

Will Pearson, an arena operator, steers the new electric Zamboni with ease. He noted that the machine isn’t the first eco-friendly upgrade the arena has seen. The District already owned one battery-powered ice resurfacing machine that is now about 10 years old.

All brands that make ice resurfacers have electric models. The tech isn’t new, but the “bones” have been upgraded, Thomson explained.

The initial price for the electric models is slightly higher, but the investment is returned over the course of the machine’s life because propane isn’t required, Thomson noted.

The distance driven by the Saanich’s ice resurfacing machines each year is approximately equal to the distance between Victoria and Halifax. This required a lot of propane and resulted in a lot of emissions.

READ ALSO: $2.6M ice slab replacement to begin at Pearkes this spring

Now that the propane-powered machines have been replaced by electric models, the arena’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by almost six tonnes, Thomson said, noting that this is in line with the District’s carbon neutrality goals.

Pearkes arena is also home to tw0 REALice rink de-aerators – one installed in 2016 and another in 2019. The devices allow staff to resurface the rink with cool water – about 18 C – rather than hot water which is usually used in the resurfacing process.

Using cooler water saves on energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, Pearson explained.

For now, arena staff aren’t expecting any further green upgrades as the focus has shifted to the upcoming ice slab replacement set to begin on the Gold rink in the spring.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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Pearkes arena’s new electric Zamboni will create fewer carbon emissions which aligns with Saanich’s sustainability goals. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

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