The Victoria West Lawn Bowling Club launched its’s 92nd season on Sunday (April 3), rolling out of two challenging years for membership and into new plans for maintaining their park.
April 3’s acting mayor and Victoria councillor Jeremy Loveday inaugurated the season with its first official pitch, after wishing two dozen association and community members gathered at Victoria West Park a great season of bowling and community building.
“I’m so grateful to see all of you out after a couple of hard years of the pandemic. How you’re stewarding this quarter of (Victoria West Park) for the community, it is really appreciated,” said Loveday.
Lawn bowling, which originated in ancient Egypt, saw its modern style developed in Scotland in the 13th century, according to a club news release. Players roll weighted balls towards a jack on a leveled pitch, with the closest to the jack winning or scoring a point.
The 2,600-sq.ft clubhouse and field was built by the City of Victoria in 1930, in the Esquimalt Road facing corner ofVictoria West Park in Esquimalt. Although still owned by the City of Victoria, the club, field and its regular events are funded almost entirely by its members, who pay an annual $225 fee.
“Our responsibility is to maintain this building and this land, and we take that very, very seriously,” said association president Merle Wall.
Recent grants awarded for the club’s large membership numbers have allowed them to upgrade their windows, heat pump and playing tarmac. They’ve also committed to a sustainability plan in line with the City of Victoria’s Climate Action Leadership Plan, and they plan to power the clubhouse with roof-mounted solar panels.
Although competitive or casual lawn bowling is their main draw, the club also offers a focus on social opportunities with weekly summer barbeques, winter yoga and cribbage year-round.
At the onset of the COVID pandemic and its restrictions, membership fell to 50. Wall said the city had then provided a $5,000 grant to assist with costs. But more members – and the dues they provide – will be required as the club’s current cohort begins to leave playing age.
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