Curling rink should be converted

Our sports recreation arena is severely under-utilized

Curling rink should be converted

I am writing to ensure that citizens of Lake Cowichan are aware of an upcoming CVRD review of the Lake Cowichan Curling Facility in the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena. This review will be assessing the viability of the curling facility at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena and possible future opportunities/options for the facility that make the best use of the curling rink space.

I have been a resident in Lake Cowichan for 10 years and believe our sports recreation arena is severely under-utilized, mainly due to the curling program. I am not anti-curling, but am very disappointed with the programs offered at our recently upgraded facility due to limited funds and space. Our facility pretty much offers only hockey and curling opportunities in relation to the building’s permanently supported infrastructure.

My understanding is that there are approximately 52 curlers in Lake Cowichan area who curl about five to six months of the year, from October to February and the cost to each member is about $100 each for the season. Conversely, each homeowner in Lake Cowichan pays about $425 dollars in yearly taxes to the CVRD for the maintenance and upkeep of our recreation facility.

In February 2005, the Lake Cowichan Parks and Recreation Commission and CVRD commissioned a report, costing a sizeable amount of our tax dollars, to have the Professional Environment Recreation Consultants, otherwise known a PERC, assess the operation and programming of the Cowichan Lake curling facility. This process included participation of the public input as well as other criteria.

The PERC group determined in 2005, that due to the low numbers of participants and the high financial subsidy of area taxpayers, the then status quo use of the Cowichan Lake curling facility was, “not appropriate” due to “the facility not being used enough to justify the subsidy it receives.”

Subsequently, the PERC group strongly recommended in 2005 that the conversion of the LCCF “to a wellness/fitness/activity centre, that would include new recreational opportunities for area residents.” The report went on to conclude that the conversion would also eventually reduce facility operating costs, increase opportunity for increased revenue, increase the number of facility participants/seasonal activity, and general recreation service satisfaction.

In 2005, the recommendations of this report were ignored by the then Lake Cowichan Parks and Recreation Committee. Furthermore, the curling facility was later upgraded with the recreation centre renovations eight years ago, that was supposed to include a permanent gym. The cost of that renovation was over $6 million. As well, over the last 13 years, curling membership has steadily declined in Lake Cowichan with the demise of the women’s curling league and the various yearly bonspiels.

This downward trend in curling participation is not unique to the Cowichan Lake Area as PERC determined in 2005, “Curling rinks are experiencing reduced use in many communities in B.C., while other recreational opportunities were increasing in popularity included multipurpose facilities, fitness centres, youth facilities, and arts/cultural centres.” Even the affluent community of Oak Bay in 2004 chose to remove the curling rinks to accommodate the greater population with multi-purpose recreation facilities as mentioned above.

I believe with the conversion of the LCCF into multi-purpose use, we can dramatically increase citizen participation at our recreation centre. Presently and historically, in relation to the curling program, the needs or wants of a few have trumped the needs of the many. Our town desperately needs wellness facilities for our youth, young families, the elderly, not to mention the population at large. Our recreation centre could and would have hundreds of people coming and going daily, with participants utilizing a gym, yoga studio, walking mezzanine, rock climbing wall — the possibilities are endless.

I implore the residents of the Cowichan Lake area to speak up, have your voices heard so that our beautiful Cowichan Lake Arena programs and services are updated to reflect the wants and needs of the many, rather than the needs of an elite few.

Further information on this process may be obtained at As well, there is an open house meeting Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena curling lounge. As well, express yourself with PlaceSpeak

Ted Gamble

Cowichan Lake

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