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January 31, 2006
For immediate release

Government to Help with Purchase Of CO Testers for Island Rinks

Community and Cultural Affairs

The government of Prince Edward Island is collaborating with the PEI Recreation and Facilities Association to ensure Island community owned rinks are equipped with carbon monoxide (CO) tester units.

Hon. Elmer MacFadyen, Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs made the announcement today. “I am pleased we were able to work in partnership with the Association to address this public safety issue so quickly.”

Earlier this month, officials at the Gateway Arena in Borden became aware that staff were suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable CO testers were brought in and the ice resurfacing equipment was upgraded to reduce emissions.

“This is a concern that has come up in other provinces where people exposed to exhaust fumes in indoor skating facilities have also experienced side effects,” said Minister MacFadyen.

“Our rinks have always played an important role in the lives of Islanders, not only as centres for sport and recreation, but often as the hub of community living. Our first priority is to ensure these facilities are safe for the participants in the various sports and community programs, for staff, and for visitors.”

There are about 25 community operated rinks in Prince Edward Island that do not presently have permanent CO testers. Government has agreed to contribute 50% towards the purchase of the CO testing units, which cost about $400 each. Rink operators will assume responsibility to ensure the units are calibrated on an annual basis.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Early symptoms of CO exposure may include headache, dizziness, weakness, and confusion. In skating rinks, elevated CO levels have sometimes been attributed to ice resurfacing machines.

Minister MacFadyen is quick to point out, however, that upgrades that have been performed on ice re-surfacers in Island rinks will control emissions, and regular servicing can ensure mechanical problems don’t lead to dangerous CO levels. Fixed CO testing units continuously monitor the surrounding air and sound an alarm if gas is building up to a dangerous concentration.

“Ensuring CO testers are installed in Island rinks is an important precautionary measure,” he said. “It is gratifying that our government and the PEI Recreation and Facilities Association have been able to work together on another proactive measure to promote safe sport and recreation activities.”

In September 2005, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with the PEI Recreation and Facilities Association, launched the Healthy Rink Initiative. In addition to implementing initiatives that would encourage rinks to offer healthy food choices and promote a healthy social environment, the Department provided funding for the Arena Safety Netting Subsidy Program.

“We are confident that when communities and government work together, everyone benefits,” said Minister MacFadyen. “I want to congratulate the community organizations that operate our island rinks and the PEI Recreation and Facilities Association for their quick action to address this issue. I am pleased to work with the Association to ensure the air inside our rinks is safe for everyone.”

Media Contact: John Morrison
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