North Island Lanes in Port Hardy hosted the 32nd annual Vancouver Island 5 Pin Championships back in March of 2018. (North Island Gazette file photo)

North Island Lanes in Port Hardy hosted the 32nd annual Vancouver Island 5 Pin Championships back in March of 2018. (North Island Gazette file photo)

North Island’s only bowling alley reopens for business

COVID-19 has caused some issues for North Island Lanes, but the bowling alley has reopened.

The only bowling alley in the Mount Waddington region has reopened with special guidelines in place to deal with COVID-19 regulations.

North Island Lanes owner/operator Carla Reusch confirmed the soft opening was last Friday (Jan. 29) and that the bowling alley is now officially open on Wednesday’s from 6-10 p.m., Thursday’s from 1-3 p.m. and 6-10 p.m., and also on Friday’s from 6-10 p.m.

In order to bowl you will need to make an appointment and pre-book ahead of time.

North Island Lanes has been shut down since last March, “and everytime we talked about opening back up the COVID regulations changed, so it’s been a tough go,” Reusch said, adding the pandemic has really made things challenging financially for the bowling alley. “Last year we were finally getting a handle on social media and advertising, we had a lot of people coming in and using the game room and having birthday parties here, and we were actually starting to see a little bit of profit after around 12 years in business, but then COVID hit and shut us right down. We didn’t qualify at that time for a lot of the grants, so we were left hanging.”

After getting a bunch of requests from residents asking for the bowling alley to reopen, Reusch and her staff started brainstorming “how we could do it safely and make it cost effectible.”

Reusch noted they’ve turned two lanes into one cubicle and have hung up plastic barriers between the lanes so people can’t bump into each other. Also, you can only have six people in each area. “We’re asking when you pre-book you let us know how many people are coming with you in your six-person group and what size of shoes they wear, so when you come in we will have the shoes ready for you in your area and you don’t have to linger in the lobby or by the counter. We will also have forms in the area so you can order food and drinks and we will bring them out to you.”

She added they have special spray to clean the rental shoes, and staff will be wiping down all the services between bowlers. “Basically we are trying to be as cautious and safe as we can while making it cost effective to stay open.”

When asked what she thinks North Island Lanes brings to the Mount Waddington region, Reusch was proud to say it’s a place where people of all ages can gather. “You can be three-years-old or 90 years-old and still be able to bowl… it’s a great place to hangout, have fun, and it gives you something you can do with your whole family.”

Reusch added she would love to see more people come out on a regular basis.

“It would definitely help us out a great deal. Come out every two weeks or once a month and play for a couple hours, join a league if you want to bowl competitively, or book yourself a birthday party here, we are quite happy to do large functions once we are able to host them again.

“Please support us, because if you don’t support us, we won’t be here for the long run. We’re not sponsored by BC Sports or the District of Port Hardy, we are a private enterprise and we don’t qualify for government grants.”


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