After months of anticipation of possibly being lost forever, Terrace bowling has scored a strike. As of June. 1, Keith and Theresa Moffat will be taking over the Terrace Bowling Lanes’ building lease as they embark on a new chapter in running the business on Lazelle Avenue.
“I’ve been bowling since I was seven years old and I just didn’t want to give it up right at the moment. My wife and I decided that we needed a change and we wanted to see if we can keep it going,” says Keith, the pending co-owner of the Terrace Bowling Lanes Ltd.
“We decided fairly quickly, it just took us a while to get everything lined up… we couldn’t say anything because we didn’t have a deal with the city and we didn’t have a full deal with the Mumford family yet.”
Last summer, the Terrace Bowling Lanes property was sold to the City of Terrace to allow the city to expand its operations from its next door complex in the future as the population is expected to double in the next 10 years. The facility was first opened in 1956 and has since been owned and operated by the Mumford family for the past 46 years. It is the city’s only bowling lane, with the nearest other located in Smithers. There are no bowling lanes in Prince Rupert or Kitimat.
“Phones have been ringing fairly steady and on Facebook people are thanking us to say they’re very happy that this was going through,” says Keith, who plans to continue working on the side as a wheelchair technician and who’s wife is currently a daycare provider. “It’s been a very, very positive, positive thing.”
In the July 18 article of the Terrace Standard announcing the sale, city planner David Block noted “the strategic purchase of the land makes City Hall property a large rectangle, then we have the opportunity to grow. Whether it’s [expanding the] fire hall or emergency service needs… We have no office space left, and parking is a demand on that side already at times.”
In a Facebook post that same month, the Mumfords announced the family is retiring and “moving on to new adventures,” inviting Terrace bowlers to help them celebrate their last season. But since that notice, bowling enthusiasts have been pinning down the city to find a way to keep the lanes open.
Representing the seniors that bowl, Christine Olsen and others maintained that this is one of the few sports and social events in which people her age can participate. She says if the lanes were closed, they would no longer be able to a part of the BC Senior Games as they need to play in their own zone to qualify.
“This has been very emotional, especially for the seniors… when you walk in there, it’s like a community where everybody knows everybody and we all sort of lean on each other for support,” Olsen says, emphasizing she’s seen many people approaching the century mark bowl to keep up their health and to get out of the house.
“I feel really good that we got the word out there and I’m hoping it made somewhat of a difference. I’m really thankful for the people that stepped up to the plate to take this on.”
Although the signing was a success, with the City of Terrace leasing the property to the couple for an amount of $3,750 per month, the contract is only for a three-year term until May 31, 2023.
Keith notes their plan is to find a location to move the bowling equipment to when the lease runs out but notes it will be difficult as there aren’t any existing buildings readily available of that size in Terrace.
“We might do a few changes here and there, hopefully try to run a couple of extra tournaments… but with the current location, we don’t have a lot of space to expand,” he says. “[Once we] secure a larger building, we can essentially turn it into a little more of a fun centre with pool tables, darts and things like that.”
The Moffats have also purchased the bowling equipment from the Mumford family which includes the laying decks, balls, shoes, all the computer systems, pinsetters and everything else in between. Keith says they have a few ideas in mind for the bowling lanes and are most happy to keep it alive for everyone in the community.
“There’s just not that many indoor activities in the region for people to do and bowling is very entertaining to start with for everyone, it’s even a fair bit of exercise if you’ve never done it before,” he says with a laugh.
“We just hope everybody supports us and we’re looking forward to this adventure.”