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Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling and Croquet Club


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#1 Holden West

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 09:38 AM

Knox column:
Bowling greens thrown a curve
Victoria evaluating 3 clubs as development pressures, aging membership lead to doubts about sustainability

Jack Knox
Times Colonist

Thursday, May 03, 2007


CREDIT: Debra Brash, Times Colonist
Gordon Till, 84, has been a member at Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling club since 1995.

Once, a man stopped right in the middle of Belleville Street to photograph the lawn bowlers. Left his car running, jumped out to get his shot, then jumped back in and drove away.

"It's a tourist attraction," says club president Ray Turner. "It really catches the eye, the white against the green."

White uniforms, that is. They're mandatory at the Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club, where that most English of games has been played for 77 years, right behind the Crystal Garden.

Alas, as age and downtown development encroach, the future of the club is in doubt. And that should dismay all of us: What other city can boast such a civilizing scene at its very heart?

The club really is an urban oasis. The game is genteel, just as it was in 1588, when Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing his match before sailing off to face the Spanish Armada. Red roses bloom at the edges of the greens. Inside the clubhouse, a portrait of the Queen gazes down serenely. The grass appears to have been groomed by God.

But outside the fence is that other Victoria: rumbling traffic, sirens, can't-hear-yourself-think construction noise from the 12-storey Aria building going up next door. Cardboard tucked against the back wall of the clubhouse shows where the homeless sleep at night. Syringe wrappers and an empty 40-pounder of Olde English 800 malt liquor litter adjoining Cridge Park. New highrises proliferate like zucchini. Increasingly, the club looks out of place.

And now the City of Victoria is taking a good look at the organization, trying to figure out where its future lies before extending its $1-a-year lease beyond October.

The players are aging and dwindling in numbers. A club that had close to 100 members in 1995 is down to half that now. Seldom are all eight greens in use at once. The novice bowlers are in their sixties. Turner is 80, just about average. On this day he is preparing to clean the gutters, being one of the few still able to take on the more physically demanding tasks.

Money is short, too. Groundskeeping costs $7,000 a year, and the clubhouse is less Rattenbury than it is ramshackle. The name may reflect the club's roots as a social outlet for employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which moved the greens to their current site from Menzies Street in 1930, but the modern edition has no external source of funding (though it was delighted to receive a contribution from the developers of the Aria).

"We don't know just what's happening to us," says Turner, 47 years in Canada failing to make much of a dent in his Yorkshire accent. Still, he praises the city for the way it has worked with the club.

Jeff Day, Victoria's community recreation co-ordinator, is evaluating three lawn bowling clubs -- the others are in Beacon Hill Park and beside the Vic West skateboard park -- that lease space from the municipality. "Before we draw up new operating agreements, we need to look at the long-term health of these clubs."

Best use of rare downtown green space is also a consideration. Access is limited to a small group who play only a couple of hours each afternoon from late April through October, critics note. Better the bowlers than the boys working on their substance-abuse issues in the ratty park next door, comes the reply.

The real issue remains lack of membership. Bowling is declining in popularity worldwide. The 10 or so Greater Victoria clubs are no exception. "The young people just aren't that interested," says Turner.

A shame, he says. It's a great social game, like curling, though it requires the concentration of billiards. And no, it's not bocce: "The worst thing you can do with a ball is lob it."

There is hope that the new residential buildings springing up in the area will spawn new members, which would at least provide more camera fodder for the tourists.

They may not know what they're watching, says Turner, but they sure like it.

mailto:jknox@tc.canwest.com
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007 Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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I like that little green oasis, even though it's not a mixed use facility. I think that we should wait until the area densifies with Aria, Falls, Crystalview--maybe membership will increase. If it doesn't, it would probably be better as a quality park.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#2 Icebergalley

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 09:39 AM

The same level of maintenance as Cridge?

#3 G-Man

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 09:51 AM

I think closing the downtown cricket club would be a big mistake. First of all as baby boomers age will there not be more players taking this up rather than less? As well would it not be good to keep these activities downtown?

And yes it is a tourist draw and an urban oasis in the chaos of the city.

Keep it!

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#4 m0nkyman

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 11:18 AM

It isn't cricket. It's lawn bowling.

Cricket is fun. It's what I played while growing up instead of baseball.

Lawn bowling isn't.

#5 G-Man

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 11:45 AM

I like lawn bowling, it is fun though I don't want to where a funny outfit.

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#6 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 12:01 PM

$1 a year? Tear it down!
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#7 Holden West

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 12:12 PM

That's one dollar more than Beacon Hill Park brings in. The City shouldn't sell it.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#8 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 12:18 PM

That's one dollar more than Beacon Hill Park brings in. The City shouldn't sell it.


But printing the invoice, placing it inthe enveloppe, putting the stamp on it, receiving and opening the payment envelope and depositing the $1 costs more than $1.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#9 m0nkyman

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 12:19 PM

Selling it is not an option that appeals, but there may be better uses for the space than a club with 50 members that use the space a mere fraction of the time.

It'd be cool to see it turn into a skateboard park, or anything really that might be used more often.

#10 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 12:20 PM

How about it doubles as a lawn-dart field? And the old, illegal type only.




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#11 Icebergalley

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 01:38 PM

Selling it is not an option that appeals, but there may be better uses for the space than a club with 50 members that use the space a mere fraction of the time.

It'd be cool to see it turn into a skateboard park, or anything really that might be used more often.



If one considers aesthetic value as part of the urban experience one may see that piece of our property in a different light...

Ditto for the tourist experience taken home from a visualisation of that part of Vibrant Victoria's culture or history... even if the saw it in Feb with no white garbed players on it...

#12 m0nkyman

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 02:00 PM

Or we could turn the entire downtown into a museum, frozen in time... that's true.

#13 Icebergalley

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 02:01 PM

Duh?

#14 Holden West

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 02:42 PM

Duh?


"If you think I've said something dumb, I'm being sarcastic"

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"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#15 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 08:57 PM

Keep it. It's so different from what surrounds it (as well as what is starting to surround it, with build-outs) that it adds value.

Putting more concrete in (a skateboarding facility) or utilizing the site in as up-to-date a fashion as the development that's neighbouring it would actually reduce complexity and eliminate difference, and therefore would destroy vibrancy.

We need places that are so insanely different that it makes people want to stop and pay attention. Otherwise, everything is just mush. Or TV.
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#16 G-Man

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 06:20 AM

^agree.

And as I said before as the pop. ages these people will have the problem of too many members not too few.

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#17 Holden West

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 08:44 AM

Twenty years from now kids might think that skateboarding is a lame activity their parents did and lawnbowling is the new hipster craze. :P
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#18 Mike K.

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 09:56 AM

Weird, the massive headline on the front cover of the TC read "End of an Urban Oasis."

The TC shouldn't act like this is such a big surprise. They've been talking about the "pending" redevelopment of the field since 2004/5-ish.

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#19 G-Man

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 10:16 AM

I wonder if there are plans by the city to redevelop this. With CG now in the hands of the city perhaps there is a plan for a real addition to the Conference Centre using this lot and the one to the North.

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#20 Icebergalley

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 10:42 AM

Got to think about that block in context and remember all of us have an interest in it as it is a community asset...

I've always thought of that block as a missed opportunity to add to a Vibrant Victoria...

We... as citizens of both Vic and BC and to some degree have an interest in the historical Church of our Lord... own much of the land on that block.. CCC, lawn bowl, Cridge Park, the car rental lots...

Crying poor seems to be a hallmark of so many civic projects.. yet, if the transfer of development rights example which gave us St. Ann's Academy and Mount St. Mary's and the redevelopment of of the balance of that block is seen as a good example, perhaps we, the Victoria and BC civic community should be thinking of how to put the value of the remaining assets together on the rental car and lawn bowling block to underwrite the development of what people on this forum have been calling the flatiron portion - Douglas - Humboldt-Burdet balance of the site..

It may be the time to have a design-build proposal to transfer the potential development density from the south portion of the site to the rental lot portion. And, use those values to; for the sake of argument; to get a civic project - new opera house incorporated into a mixed use building..

Visualise... looking at a neon theatre marquee on the "prow" of a opera house?? or theatre etc.. animated by people rushing to the theatre.. a street level lobby etc..


PS.. I had this in mind before the Aria was approved but, came to the conclusion that despite the ability of a private developer to do the whole block it would have been politically impossible and financial suicide to pull such a project together in a timely manner..

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