Letter: Richmond councillors defend $5.3m bowling decision

Dear Editor,

There have been a lot of comments recently about council’s decision to fund a new lawn bowling clubhouse in Minoru Park. As councillors, we believe the public should be fully aware of the long history associated with this project and council’s reasons in approving it.

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The Richmond Lawn Bowling Clubhouse was constructed in 1963 and is located in the north east corner of Minoru Park. The existing lawn bowling facility does not adequately accommodate the club’s current membership; there are no change facilities, lockers are inadequate and it lacks the amenities needed to host major competitions. The current clubhouse’s pan-abode structure does not lend itself well to renovations or expansions.

In 2016, Richmond City Council identified the renovation or replacement of the lawn bowling clubhouse as one of the city’s top five priority major facility projects. Richmond Sports Council, which acts as a voice for local sports groups, supported this as well.

Lawn bowling is popular among the city’s growing older adult population. It is a very social sport, and provides community connections, particularly for older adults. The city is committed to providing recreation and sport facilities like this which inspire seniors and others to be active, connected and healthy for a lifetime.

Before proceeding with the project, the city undertook public consultation with the community to gather input on the planning and design of the new facility.

This new building will serve the community for several decades so the initial investment of $5.3 million should be considered in terms of the building’s lifespan. The project costs will be largely funded from our reserve accounts, meaning there will be minimal direct impact on property taxes.

Council has directed staff to work with the Richmond Lawn Bowling Club to discuss arrangements for other groups with community needs to have access to the building, when space is not required for club activities.

Council rejected proposals to consider adding extra floors to the building for residential or other community needs. Minoru Park is the green heart of Richmond. We need to carefully maintain the balance in our signature park between open space and facilities supporting community needs. Using the airspace above the building to add more density in the form of housing would erode open space and is not an appropriate use of our valuable park land.

Coun. Bill McNulty

Coun. Linda McPhail

RICHMOND

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