The Victoria branch of the Boys and Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria is closing its doors this summer after a half-century in the former fire hall building at 1240 Yates St.
Looming repair costs and seismic upgrading concerns are forcing the relocation of the club to newer offices at 1195 Esquimalt Rd., within walking distance of the Harbourside Esquimalt Club and close to the Vic West club on Craigflower Road, said executive director Dalyce Dixon.
“For over five decades our home base at 1240 Yates Street has served our community well,” Dixon said. “In recent years we have come to realize that the aging building has some overwhelming challenges that are beyond our resources to adequately address.”
The number of youth who live within walking distance of the 22,000 square-foot Yates Street facility has also declined drastically since the club opened in 1960, she added.
Dixon said both the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association and Fernwood Community Centre are excellent nearby facilities that will continue to serve residents near the old facility.
Local Boys and Girls Clubs operate in Esquimalt, VicWest, Central Saanich, and the Westshore including Langford, Colwood and Metchosin.
The history of the facility is described below from a Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria press release:
The Victoria Club was conceived by the late Colonel Bull as a ‘living’ memorial to his son who had been shot down in WWII in 1943. He gathered together some of his friends and acquaintances to assist in its formation and to serve as directors. In 1960 they convinced the city council to provide the recently discarded Yates Street fire hall as a clubhouse. The directors then provided or raised sufficient funds to start and maintain the Club in its early years.
Initially the primary purpose of the club was to provide activities suited to the many, many children and youth living in the immediate area of the club. There was little to occupy them in their spare time and what was then Central Junior High School across the road was greatly overcrowded and understaffed and unable to offer much in the way of after school activities. The programs offered by the club consisted largely of team sports and craft activities that could be carried out in the building and on adjacent school playing fields. The staff and volunteers provided the needed guidance together with a friendly ear, some counseling and positive role models for those who needed it.