The 100 Mile Bowling Alley is once again in danger of closing it’s doors. A call has gone out to local groups who could step in and prevent the alleys becoming silent.
Cedar Crest Society for Community Living executive director Tim Guthrie says its members use the bowling alley a couple times a week. Some also participate on the local Special Olympics bowling team, which depends on the facility to practice.
Due to his contacts with these groups he was recently approached by the owners, Linda Watson and Shane Hall, to spend some time investigating the potential to find a local group or agency to take over the alley’s operation.
“They don’t live here, and they are not prepared to live here and manage it,” he said.
The idea is a non-profit society or group might run the business in an agreement with the owners, but otherwise, the facility will close.
Guthrie says over the past 20 years he has watched the bowling alley “open and close, open and close.”
“The problem is, of course, that the bowling alley is elderly and everybody is quite gun-shy about investing in that part of it.”
However, the operation of the lanes might be more feasible for a local group of people to take on under a management agreement, he explains, without any need to purchase the building.
“What that will look like, I don’t know, and the Cedar Crest Society is not prepared to do it independently. But, we are prepared to spend a bit of our resources and at least let folks out there know there is a really good chance it will close.”
Watson says she and Hall, now in Kamloops, formerly lived in the South Cariboo, so decided to first offer it to the community as an operating bowling alley, before shutting it down.
“If it could not be operated by them as a bowling alley, then we would put the land and the building up for sale.”
Since the business is struggling and the building is zoned for multiple use, they will look at closing permanently if this idea doesn’t pan out.
“We invested in it, and it was not a viable business … so we thought if some of the service clubs in town could rally their members to go bowling once a week, supporting [a local non-profit], that there may be more of a ‘flavour’ for supporting those local organizations.”
If users paying for lane or building use knew that money was going back into the community, that might make it more viable for a local group to operate it, she adds.
“Then, it is just such a win-win for everybody.
“We used to live in Bridge Lake, and we used the bowling alley when our kids were younger.”
In the past, portions of the large, retro-style Quonset facility have been rented out by a judo club, a dance club, private parties and other activities, he notes, and even had an arcade at one point.
However, interest waned when the heat was off for a time prior to the recent sale, Guthrie explains.
“I think they have all left because it was so cold.”
Now, he explains the new owners have reinstalled the heat and the warmth is “fabulous.”
“Reports are coming in from Cedar Crest and Special O [bowlers] that it is marvellous, because they don’t have to wear gloves when they bowl. So, that potentially could attract other user groups back.”
Guthrie says he asked representatives from Canlan Ice Sports and Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre to a meeting with about half a dozen other potential interest groups.
“We met [on Nov. 7], and we had some Special Olympics and some league bowlers and [our board] …. anybody we could think of that might be potentially using the bowling alley and might have an interest to get involved.”
The group hope to have a larger meeting shortly to discuss it further, he says.
“We thought we should probably spread it out in the community and find out if anybody out there is interested in having this conversation.”
Says Watson: “We would really like it to operate as a business, because it’s pretty ‘funky’ in there.”
For more information on participating in the local group discussions, contact Tim Guthrie at 250-395-4643.