New clubhouse slated for Richmond lawnbowlers

A one-storey Richmond Lawn Bowling Clubhouse will be rebuilt in Minoru Park to the tune of $5.3 million despite some councillors arguing the building should include housing for vulnerable seniors or room for non-profits.

While some councillors and members of the public opposed building a single-purpose clubhouse in the city centre, Mayor Malcolm Brodie questioned why some were arguing for building taller buildings in a park when they opposed building large buildings on agricultural land.

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“It’s one thing to say across here on No. 3 Road, you want multi-floors, but to say that for a park, I don’t understand that,” he said, adding “Aren’t we going to end up with just a bunch of residences in the park?”

The vote to build the 4,900-square-foot clubhouse was split 5-4 with Couns. Kelly Greene, Harold Steves, Carol Day and Michael Wolfe voting against the plan.

Kion Wong, president of the Richmond Lawn Bowling Club, told council on Monday that club members need to “pray for good weather” because there isn’t room inside the club house during events.

He added the current capacity of the building isn’t sufficient as the kitchen facilities are too small and there aren’t enough lockers or storage space, as the clubhouse was built for 75 people in 1968.

“It was designed for bowling 50 years ago – that’s half a century,” Wong pointed out.

He said the club would be “happy” to accommodate other community needs, as long as they remain the “primary user.”

“Lawn bowling is a sport for all and for life,” he told council with some club members in their 80s and 90s.

The current clubhouse was built in 1968 and is 1,920 square feet in size. They project the club to grow to 400 members of the five years.

At the same meeting, council was looking at a report discussing the pressures faced by Richmond non-profit groups because of rising rents and lack of space for their services.

Several people spoke about the possibility of using a new lawn bowling facility as a shared space with non-profits.

Niti Sharma spoke to council about building a two- to three-storey building and allowing the club to be the primary user on the ground level, but giving the additional floors to non-profits.

“As the city gets densified, land is the most limited and precious resource and many non-profits in this city are struggling to find spaces to function,” Sharma said.

Council approved $4 million for the replacement in December 2017, but last week a budget increase of $1.21 million was requested to build the 4,900-square-foot building. The lawn bowling club will contribute $90,000.

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