Bowling, pursued for sport and leisure by generations of Canadians, will be included in a municipal review of recreational activities for the first time, but the park board for the moment rejected a proposal to investigate options for public bowling lanes.
Instead, bowling will join a larger analysis planned for the coming year.
Vision Vancouver commissioner Constance Barnes put forward one of two motions on bowling for the Nov. 26 meeting. "It would behoove us to look at the new facilities we are building," she said. "Does it make sense to incorporate bowling alleys?"
Advocates for a public bowling centre packed the parks board chambers for the Monday night meeting, and 15 speakers addressed council, all of them lamenting the anticipated closure and demolition of the Varsity Ridge Bowl five-pin bowling alley. (Cressey Development purchased the land to build condos and is demolishing the West Side bowling centre and adjacent movie theatre.)
The discussion lasted two hours. Speakers included eight-year-old Theo Robson in a bowtie, 93-year-old Ethel Morley who asked, "Please do something to replace it," and Daniel Heather, 35, who uses a wheelchair and brought on a peal of laughter when he said, "I'm proud to say I'm still not a very good bowler."
The commissioners voted unanimously for a recreational review. The five Vision commissioners rejected NPA commissioner John Coupar's two amendments to "strengthen" the motion by directing staff to investigate options for a public bowling alley and by salvaging the aging equipment from the Varsity Ridge.
NPA commissioner Melissa De Genova asked, "How [is] this motion going to play out into a bowling centre for the people who are here tonight?"
Four bowling centres in B.C. are owned by municipal governments, said Ken Hayden, who purchased Varsity Recreation in 1976 and relocated Varsity Ridge Bowl to West 15th Ave. in 1981.
He said 1,200 school kids bowl annually with their P.E. classes and 15,000 children come every year for birthday parties. Four hundred seniors bowl in weekly leagues, and charities hold fundraisers at Varsity Ridge Bowl.
Vancouver real estate prices prohibit him from building a new centre, he said, emphasizing the social and health benefits of the multi-generational activity. "We are looking to the city to build and operate a bowling centre."