After a months-long battle fought by the Juan de Fuca Curling Association to keep its rink open, West Shore Parks and Recreation has confirmed its closure.
On Thursday, directors of the curling association met with the West Shore Parks and Recreation Board and staff and were told the rink will be closed and converted into dry floor space.
“We obviously have some very upset members and the executive is still wrapping our head around everything,” said Stephanie Cambrey, a director with the curling association. “This decision was made without public consultation, we don’t even have the report that led to them making this decision.”
In March, the West Shore Parks and Recreation board announced its decision to close the curling rink that has been in use since 1975. Jonathan Huggett, a project consultant for West Shore Parks and Recreation said dry floor space will be a better value for taxpayer money.
“These decisions are extremely difficult,” said Sandy Clarke, acting administrator for West Shore Parks and Recreation. “West Shore Parks and Recreation hopes that by moving to a dry floor space we would be able to serve a broader range of sports programs and users.”
Clarke said the board looked at revenue generated by each space at West Shore Parks and Recreation as well as the expenses attached to each one and usage. She said the curling rink was creating a “high financial cost for an underused space.”
The lounge area in the rink is also being converted into child care space through a grant from the Province. Clarke said with a growing population in the West Shore, the demand for child care has increased making this a better use of space for the community.
The Juan de Fuca Curling Association says the costs calculated by West Shore Parks and Recreation are inaccurate. West Shore Parks and Recreation says they pay a subsidy of $11.24 per use of the rink which is high, compared to about a $2 subsidy per use of the pool and about $4 per use of the soccer field or hockey arena.
The curling association’s finance team did their own review and found the rink actually makes a 63 cent profit per use of the curling rink.
Kirk Wenzel, a director of the curling association who was one of the people who did the financial review said the discrepancy comes from the board not calculating the cost and number of users correctly.
“They admitted they had a problem with allocating these costs,” Wenzel said. “It was an estimate and wasn’t accurate.”
The curling association had the opportunity to present their numbers to the board and also offered to take over operation of the curling club — renting the space and looking after ice maintenance, installation and removal at the end of the season — but in the end, West Shore Parks and Recreation decided to stand by its original decision.
Clarke said West Shore Parks and Recreation was not in complete agreement with the numbers provided by the curling association.
“None of this is a perfect science, we do our very best with it but there was a discrepancy,” Clarke said.
Cambrey said the curling association members do not believe their fight is over yet. According to Cambrey, letters patent from 1974 show that it is a responsibility for West Shore municipalities to provide a curling rink to the community. The curling association has hired a lawyer to help them find a new home and has asked the municipalities to have their lawyers contact the association lawyer.
“Curling is a social game, you make friends for life and learn communication and team building skills,” Cambrey said. “They’re taking that away from the kids who can’t play other sports like football or soccer and from the seniors who have been playing this game since they were young kids.”
Clarke said reservations for the dry floor space will be accepted starting in the fall.