Group battles to spare bowling alley from wrecking ball 0
Protesters march to Vancouver City Hall in hopes of saving the Varsity Ridge bowling alley in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday October 9, 2012, (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
A group battling to save a west side bowling alley from demolition took their fight to City Hall Wednesday.
A person dressed as a bowling pin holding a sign that read "spare me" was part of a group protesting plans to tear down the Varsity Ridge bowling alley and replace it with a condominium development.
“This is a social centre,” said Carrie Riches, a mother of two children.
“How can we say this is not an existing social service that has been provided for free for the last 35 years? How can we say this should go quietly into the good night?”
The group gathered at the bowling alley on West 15th Avenue and Arbutus Street then marched to City Hall. They jammed to overflowing a development permit board meeting. More than 100 people signed up to speak.
Cressey Development bought the land last year and plans to build a five-storey residential building along with some retail space.
To reach the eight-lane alley a person descends down a flight of stairs. Inside, it’s dark and a blue carpet covers the floor. Several seniors and some children tossed balls on the polished lanes.
Phyllis Lindburg took up bowling in her 70s “for the sociability and also (for) keeping fit.”
“It’s just sad to think it should be torn down,” she said.
Daniel Heather sat in his wheelchair holding a sign that said, “Even I can bowl!”
Ken Hayden, who has owned Varsity Ridge since 1981, said more than 2,000 people use the alley. They range in age from four to 91 years old and include league bowlers, youth and people involved in Special Olympics.
“It's been a big part of my life,” said Hayden. “You like to retire on your own terms, not someone else’s terms.”
Riches is frustrated the decision to tear down the alley was made without community involvement.
“Stop the wrecking ball long enough to engage the community so we can have a dialogue that includes the community and finds a compromise before we lose this gem,” she said.
Hayden admitted he isn’t confident the project can be stopped, but Riches remains hopeful.
“I have to have hope,” she said. “Hope is something humans live by. If I don't have hope then what am I doing here today?”