The Campbell River Curling Club is hoping to attract newcomers to the sport for the upcoming season after facing a tough time through the pandemic.
“COVID-19 hit us hard,” said Susan Johnson, the club’s manager. “It was difficult for the sport everywhere.”
After ending the 2019-20 season early, the club only operated for seven weeks last season before being forced to close again. But a silver lining of the closure is that it gave the club an opportunity to replace its roof, work on which is now underway.
“It was now or never,” said Johnson, of the roof replacement.
The club is paying a large part of the project’s $110,000 or so price tag directly, but it was also made possible by a grant through the BC Games Society. Not only will the new metal roof last for years, it will also improve the look of the building, she said.
“Aesthetically, we know it looks like a barn on Dogwood (Street), so it’s really nice for us to try to put something into it to make it look better,” she said.
While the new roof is the club’s major project, work has also been done to improve other aspects of the facility.
“Every year we plug away at upgrading all our equipment, trying to stay viable and operable,” she said. “We hope the community sees we are continually investing in this building.”
The curling club is now putting the finishing touches on registration details and COVID protocols for the upcoming season. It is mandated through Curl BC, Curl Canada and viaSport, which will require individuals to be fully vaccinated to play. Currently, masks will be required when in common areas, but not when curling.
“I’m really hopeful that as COVID becomes our new normal — which I think it going to be the case — everybody feels comfortable, because we’ll do everything we can to make it comfortable,” she said. “Plus you’re not in super close proximity to other people.”
The club is now working to rebuild its membership, which declined by 30 per cent over the pandemic. Unlike other clubs part of regional districts or municipalities that can rely on public funds to stay viable, Campbell River’s club is fully member-owned and relies on fees to operate.
“We need our membership to go,” said Johnson. “Now it’s about trying to resell it back to people who are already curlers, but also attracting new members.”
The club will be holding two-day clinics in late September or early October open to anyone wanting to try throwing some rocks around.
“Curling appeals to a lot of people,” said Johnson. “It can be relaxed and really social, or it can be very challenging. It suits everybody.”