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Climate Changed: Canadian arenas adapting and improving to combat temperature changes



It’s getting harder to make ice in Winnipeg, a city known for its frigid winters.

Warmer summers and sudden shifts in temperature in the spring and fall have made it difficult for the older refrigeration systems in Winnipeg’s municipal arenas to get the cement slab sufficiently cold. Todd McDonald, the supervisor of arena and aquatic assets for the City of Winnipeg, explained how one of the older Freon-based cooling systems he oversees is struggling to keep up with Manitoba’s changing climate.

“We used to open it up probably in the third week of September going back 25 years ago, then about 10 to 12 years ago, we had to push the opening date to Oct. 1, because we’d start the plant at the same time, but it would take so many more days and weeks to remove the heat from the slab,” said McDonald, noting that refrigeration is not the creation of cold but rather the removal of heat.

“We’ve pushed it to Oct. 15 the last several years. This year in particular, we had an Oct. 15 opening date that had to be pushed back one week due to the fact the plant is running at 100 per cent efficiency, but we just can’t remove the heat as quickly as we used to be able to.”

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In the case of ice rinks, refrigeration has historically meant moving the “waste heat” outdoors through a coolant system. That’s an increasingly big challenge as Canadian arena operators have to run their ice plants longer and at higher power to counteract warmer outdoor temperatures while also trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and not add to the warmer environment.

Ammonia-based coolants are the most common in North American arenas. Although ammonia is highly toxic in confined spaces it has zero carbon emissions. Freon-based systems are being phased out as that chemical has a 100-year global warming potential of 1,810 or nearly 2,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide refrigeration systems are also in use in some arenas, but they are not as widespread as either ammonia- or Freon-based systems.

Winnipeg operates 12 rinks, with 10 using ammonia-based cooling systems. The other two use Freon, which is being grandfathered out of arenas and other larger refrigeration systems across North America because of its global warming potential.

McDonald said that lowering the temperature in an ice rink — especially with the older Freon-based systems — is becoming harder each fall and during the winter when there are more warm spells than in the past.

“As the ground warms up more and more each year, it takes more and more energy to release that heat come the fall time,” he said. “As the shoulder seasons become more unpredictable that’s where we’re finding we’re struggling.

“(Winnipeg’s) cool weather in the spring was advantageous towards us but then the fall being warm wasn’t, so there’s trade offs. And engineering is all about trade offs.”

Several Canadian cities are finding new, inventive ways to create those trade offs at their arenas.

Winnipeg has a lengthy list of energy and carbon reduction measures that it’s considering. Sealing leaks, installing radiant heaters in seating areas, heat reclamation on compressors, LED lighting, and collecting rainwater for ice surface floodwater are just some of the innovations the city is examining.

The cities of Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver all exclusively use ammonia-based coolant at their municipally operated rinks. All seven Canadian NHL teams use ammonia-based coolants in their arenas.

A spokeswoman for the City of Toronto confirmed that the majority of its 119 ice surfaces use ammonia-based systems or will be upgraded to ammonia during ongoing state-of-repair upgrades. College Park’s Barbara Ann Scott rink, an outdoor skating trail, was completed in 2018 and uses a carbon-dioxide-based system that is non-toxic, non-flammable, and has zero net carbon emissions.

Steve Glass, manager of facility operations for the City of Calgary, said that the trope of an old, dingy refrigerator plant at a local arena is simply not a reality anymore.

“Everything’s very high-tech now and heavily designed, heavily maintained,” said Glass with a laugh. “The movies don’t depict exactly what’s happening, that’s for sure.

“We’re not banging wrenches on pipes to make things work.”

Like his counterpart in Winnipeg, Glass said his team is always finding new ways to make Calgary’s rinks more energy and cost efficient. That includes installing low emissivity fabric under ceilings that reduces solar heat seeping down from the roof and therefore the load on refrigeration systems. The city has also upgraded its ice plant condensers to be adiabatic, which means there’s no exchange of heat from the system to the building, among other improvements.

“(Our goal) is to reduce our environmental footprint, reduce our carbon footprint,” said Glass. “There’s also a sustainable operating cost reduction, which helps keep the tax base down.

“Anything that we can do with new technology that benefits Calgarians.”

Vancouver and Ottawa have both started using heat redistribution systems that take the energy produced by the ice plants and redistribute it to other parts of the arena or adjacent buildings. Craig Edwards, manager of energy and utilities with Vancouver’s real estate and facilities management department, said that the heat redistribution technology has made municipal arenas very efficient.

“You can heat entire community centre buildings easily with all the waste heat from the ice rinks,” said Edwards, who noted that all the ice rink compressors are electric and therefore low in greenhouse gas emissions. “So we’re not producing any greenhouse gas emissions to operate the ice rinks and then we also offset the emissions from all the adjacent buildings.”

Edwards said that Vancouver is in the process of using the heat waste from an arena to warm a greenhouse at the city’s Sunset Works Yard, where the parks department grows all its plants and flowers before the spring.

The City of Ottawa has also made use of the large amount of space that its arenas and community facilities occupy, installing solar panels on 12 of its large flat roofs, including four of its arenas, to produce green energy.

Toronto has also begun to install solar panels, LED efficient lighting and controls systems, as well as reflective ceiling material to reduce refrigeration operation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2022.


John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press


More 'police' centres run by China found around world: NGO – CTV News



A human rights organization says it has found dozens of additional overseas Chinese “police service centres” around the world, including at least two more in Canada.

In a new report released Monday called “Patrol and Persuade,” the Spain-based non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders says it used open source statements from People’s Republic of China authorities, Chinese police and state media to document at least 48 additional stations.

This on top of the 54 stations revealed in September, bringing the total number of documented centres to 102 in 53 countries. Some host countries also have co-operated in setting up these centres, Safeguard Defenders says.

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The stations are accused of targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, particularly those who allegedly committed crimes in China, in order to coerce them to return home.

Safeguard Defenders reports that along with the three police “stations” previously confirmed in the Greater Toronto Area, which are operated out of the Chinese city of Fuzhou, it has found newly confirmed centres in Vancouver, operated out of Wenzhou, and another whose location is unknown but operates out of Nantong.

In a statement to CTV National News on Monday, the RCMP said it’s “investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the so-called ‘police’ stations.” No further details were provided.

A similar statement was given by the police force to CP24 in late October following the previous report of Toronto-area stations.

The consulate general of the People’s Republic of China said at the time that the stations are to help Chinese citizens renew their driver’s licences, given many of them are unable to return to China due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the “local volunteers” facilitating this “are not Chinese police officers.”

However, Safeguard Defenders says the vast majority of the newly documented stations were set up starting in 2016, years before the pandemic began.

In its previous report in September, Safeguard Defenders found that Chinese police “persuaded” 230,000 claimed fugitives to return to China “voluntarily” between April 2021 and July 2022. Among the tactics used, Safeguard Defenders said, included denying suspects’ children in China the right to education and punishing relatives through “guilt by association.”

The U.S. Department of Justice accused seven people in October of a yearslong campaign to harass and intimidate a U.S. resident to return to China.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G20 summit in Indonesia in November, his office told reporters that he had raised concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping of “interference” in Canada.

Asked about what specific interference he referred to, Trudeau later told the House of Commons, “We’ve known for many years that there are consistent engagements by representatives of the Chinese government into Canadian communities, with local media, reports of illicit Chinese police stations.”

With files from CP24 Web Content Writer Joanna Lavoie, CTV National News Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy, CTV News Toronto Videojournalist Allison Hurst and The Canadian Press 

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Trudeau 'extremely concerned' about report Canadian parts ended up in Iranian drones – National | – Global News



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “extremely concerned” over a report Canadian-made parts have been discovered in Iranian drones used by Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Trudeau shared his worries with reporters in Ingersoll, Ont., Monday after the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday the discovery by a non-profit organization, Statewatch. Its “Trap Aggressor” investigation detailed last month that an antenna manufactured by an Ottawa-based Tallysman Wireless was featured in the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone.

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Read more:

Canada sanctions Iranian drone makers amid Russian strikes in Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau'

Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau

The drones have been used recently by Russia in Ukraine as Moscow increases its strikes on the country’s energy and civilian infrastructure.

“We’re obviously extremely concerned about those reports because even as Canada is producing extraordinary, technological innovations … we do not want them to participate in Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that,” Trudeau said.

“We have strict export permits in place for sensitive technology that are rigorously enforced, and that’s why we’ve been following up with this company, that’s fully cooperating, to figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”

The Shahed-136 is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries, one of two Iranian drone makers Ottawa sanctioned last month for reportedly supplying Russia with its lethal drones. After denying reports it was supplying Moscow, Iran acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 it had sent Moscow drones before the Feb. 24 war began.

Click to play video: 'Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor'

Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor

It denied continuing to supply drones to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Iran of lying, previously saying Kyiv’s forces were destroying at least 10 of its drones every day.

Aside from its Iranian-made engine, the Shahed-136 consists entirely of foreign components, Statewatch said in its report. It cited Ukrainian intelligence managing to identify more than 30 European and American companies’ components, with most parts coming from the United States.

A drone is seen in the sky seconds before it fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 17.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Drones like the Shahed are packed with explosives and can be preprogrammed with a target’s GPS coordinates. They can nosedive into targets and explode on impact like a missile, hence why they have become known as suicide drones or kamikaze drones.

Shaheds are relatively cheap, costing roughly US$20,000 each — a small fraction of the cost of a full-size missile.

Read more:

‘Game-changing’ drone warfare in Ukraine may tee up new phase of conflict: official

Drones “provide a critical capability” to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, and their use may be a prelude to a new phase in the conflict, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Paul Lushenko previously told Global News.

Gyles Panther, president at Tallysman, told the Globe the company is not “complicit in this usage” and “is 100-per cent committed” to supporting Ukraine.

Ottawa is working to understand how the parts ended up in the drones, and wants to “ensure” incidents like this don’t “happen again in the future,” Trudeau said.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Available Nexus appointments Canada



There’s good news for those looking to expedite their border crossing experience.

To mitigate the ongoing backlog issues at Canadian border crossings, border officials have reopened two Nexus and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) enrolment centres in Canada.

It’s the first time any Nexus and FAST offices have been open in Canada since the pandemic began, and federal officials say more offices will be opening in the future.

The Nexus program, which has over 1.7 million members, is designed to speed up the border clearance process for its members, while also freeing up more time for Canadian and U.S. border security agents to tend to unknown or potentially higher-risk travellers and goods.

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The benefit of Nexus is that it allows for those travelling between the two countries to save time, skipping long lineups and using the shorter, dedicated Nexus lanes when crossing the border, as well as designated kiosks and eGates at major airports, and quicker processing at marine crossings.

Reopening these two Canadian centres is the first phase of a larger plan to address the lengthy Nexus and FAST backlog, and will increase availability for applicants to book appointments to interview for Nexus pre-approval, the Canada Border Service Agency said in a statement Monday.

Those looking to get Nexus approval can now schedule interviews, by appointment only, at the Lansdowne, Ont. (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, Ont. (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, through the trusted traveller programs portal.

Travellers looking to apply will still need to complete a new two-step process, and the Canadian offices don’t mean applicants won’t have to cross the border to finalize the process.

If conditionally approved for Nexus status, travellers can complete the first part of the interview at one of the two reopened Canadian enrolment centres, then complete the second interview portion just across the border at the corresponding U.S. enrolment centres on the other side. For Lansdowne, that’s Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and for Fort Erie, it’s Buffalo, N.Y.

To become conditionally approved, both the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have to grant approval prior to scheduling the interview portion, and interviews need to be conducted on both sides of the border.

“Nexus and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we’re working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get Nexus cards,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, in a press release. “This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We’ll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals.”

Applicants also have the option to complete a one-step process and schedule complete interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S., which may be a preferred option for those who don’t live near the two centres currently open in Canada.

And those who are already members of the Nexus program and are awaiting an interview can renew their membership ahead of its expiry date in order to retain their travel benefits for up to five years.

More centres are expected to open at select land border crossings in the future, as this initial phase carries on, CBSA says.

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