Ashcroft Curling Club battling to keep the doors open

Dwindling membership means this year’s season is in jeopardy.

The Ashcroft & District Curling Club is between a rock and a hard place.

It is in danger of closing this coming season unless people start signing up to curl for 2017–18.

Club secretary Janet Quesnel says they need the curlers’ annual dues to help pay for the operation of the rink. “We’re fighting to get people back to curl.”

She says they had to close the club’s doors in 2006 because of a roof issue, and water was leaking through it.

“The rink is owned by the Village of Ashcroft and it has always paid for the repairs and the like. So we went to them and said ‘It’s your building so you have to fix it.’ Between the two of us, we figured where we stood.”

Quesnel says the Village fixed the roof in 2006. “Unfortunately, in the year [the Village] was dealing with this, nobody went in and opened up the fans and stuff, so when we went in to start the ice plant, we discovered we had black mould. We had to close down for another six months to get the mould out.

“So in that 18 months we were closed, we lost a lot of membership through people aging and others finding other things to do during the winter.

“We have been fighting dropping membership and trying to get people back into curling. It’s a good sport; you can do it until you’re really, really old.”

Meanwhile, the executive has kept the club going by renting out the rink to a tree planting company that was keeping its seedlings cool there during the summer planting season when the rink was closed and not in use.

“That rent has basically kept our club operating in the last three years. They paid us so much per seedling, and paid all of the hydro and gas while they were using the building. That gave us the money to restart every year.”

Unfortunately, the company didn’t come back this year, Quesnel explains.

“So now we’re looking for money and trying to get people to come back to curl. We are also applying for grants.”

She notes there is no more high school curling, or children from the elementary schools coming to the rink.

“Now, the average age of our curling club is 50-plus, with the youngest curler—my daughter—being 27 years old.”

Quesnel says she has been trying to entice people on social media. “Now we’re writing letters [to former and current members] to see if it’s feasible to open up this year.”

She has also been applying for grants throughout most of the summer, but has been unsuccessful. “They take a long time to put together. We’re actively approaching local businesses and asking for help.

“It’s so we don’t lose another sport and another building in our town.

“Really, there’s nothing else they [the Village] can use the curling club for unless they pave the ice surface area.”

Meanwhile, the Village has been helpful in the attempts to keep the curling club going.

“They are aware of our struggles. At present, we have formed a committee with two of the Village councillors and the chief administrative officer in an attempt to brainstorm ways to keep the doors open.”

Quesnel says people can also rent the upstairs lounge at the curling club for special occasions and meetings.

The club plans to start curling in mid-November if there are enough people to get the season underway. Fees will be $200 for the season, and $100 for junior curlers.

This season, there will be seniors’ curling on Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m., with curling also held on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information about any aspect of this season’s curling, call Janet at (250) 453-9665.

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