Barry Sideroff, Beaverlodge Curling Club general manager, stops for a photo at the club in Beaverlodge, Alta. on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. The club is asking the Town of Beaverlodge for some financial assistance for a fire alarm upgrade while the town upgrades the arenas fire alarm. The BCC, a non-profit, saw a huge loss in revenue over the last couple years due to the pandemic. (Photo by Jesse Boily) Jesse Boily

Original Published 11:49 Mar 31, 2022

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Beaverlodge Curling Club (BCC) is happy to report things are looking up.

“Actually, this year turned out to be a pretty good year,” said Barry Sideroff, general manager of the BCC.

The past two years came with troubles for the BCC, due to the pandemic shutting down much of the club’s operations.

It was forced to close its doors in March 2020 before itsfinal bonspiel, which is a major source of their revenue, said Andrea Moncrieff, BCC president.

The 2020/2021 season was cut short after the club laid ice and having leagues use the rink for a week before being shut down again.

All in all, it meant the club finished the 2020/2021 season at a $42,718 loss, said Moncrieff.

The BCC is a non-profit group that owns its building. Costs continue to rise for the club, noted Sideroff. He said operational costs such as power and insurance continue to increase.

“It’s a lot of money to keep a place like that open,” he said.

The BCC has leagues playing in the club about three nights a week, and organizers are hopeful to have some lounge nights in the off-season. As Sideroff notes, those events require volunteers, and those are in short supply.

The lack of volunteers has also affected the junior curling program which hasn’t run in the last few years.

“It’s hard to get people to volunteer to run an operation like that,” said Sideroff.

He said there has been some interest recently in bringing it back this fall, with input from a volunteer in Grande Prairie.

The BCC works closely with the Town of Beaverlodge, since it shares an ice plant with the arena next door.

The town is moving forward with a fire alarm upgrade on the arena; if BCC were also to do the upgrade simultaneously, it is expected to cost about $37,500, said Moncrieff.

“The BCC would like to proceed with the alarm update at the same time as the arena as there are obvious efficiencies and cost savings created by doing so,” she said. The problem, she notes, is a lack of revenue over the past couple of years. The club has asked the town for financial assistance; council is expected to make a decision at its next meeting on April 11.

“The overall safety of the attached buildings is increased by not having the BCC upgrade lag,” said Moncrieff.

Meanwhile, Sideroff is encouraged by a younger crowd of people in their 30s and 40s turning out to the facility.

“It’s actually good that we’ve got some younger people starting to actually show up at our at our leagues,” he said.

This item reprinted with permission from Town & Country News, Beaverlodge, Alberta