Lawn bowling club objects to Forward House closure

Sixteen teams of three took part in the Iroquois Lawn Bowling club’s annual tournament July 4th with teams from throughout Eastern Ontario. The club has 22 members but attracts up to 40 on their bowling night with walk-ups. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

IROQUOIS – Members of the Iroquois Lawn Bowling Club are objecting to South Dundas council’s decision from June to close Forward House.

Council voted at the June 20th council meeting to close Forward House immediately due to the deteriorating condition of the structure.

In September 2016, the municipality received report on the structure outlining three options. To fix the building, demolish it, or restore it.

“We only got word of the council vote an hour before the meeting,” explained Ron Beaupre, secretary for the ILBC. “They’ve had this report on the building since September, did anyone think to talk to the users of the building to discuss this?”

Due to the late notification to the club, members and executive were unable to attend the council meeting that night.

Beaupre outlined a number of issues with the buildings closure and the process used.

“They [South Dundas] haven’t maintained the building, and we’ve been telling them the roof needs to be fixed.”

The municipality added a accessibility ramp and washroom in recent years, however the 2016 report outlined nearly $24,000 worth of immediate repairs for the building. A full restoration of the stone and timber building is estimated at $334,000.

At the June 20th meeting, council suggested the club be offered space in the municipal campground building.

“They never talked to us before,” said Beaupre. “The space does not fit the number of people who play. They talked about a new building, but there are no plans, no designs and no budget. So when would that happen?”

Beaupre explained the club had 36 players on July 3rd, a regular playing night.

“For many this isn’t just the game, there is a social aspect that is important,” he said. “The players socialize after, sometimes for more than an hour. You hear a lot of laughs. It is important for seniors to be connected.”

Beaupre argued that South Dundas council made a knee-jerk reaction once the report was presented.

“The public needs to make the decision if the building is fixed,” he said.

Beaupre cited the 2015 Iroquois Waterfront Committee report that called for a revitalized Forward House.

He explained the club’s membership has been steadily increasing in the past seven years, through advertising, outreach with community groups and sports days with local schools.

“We have 22 paid members, but easily attract over 30 people many nights with walk-up players,” he said. “Just as we are doing really well, this happens. Talk about a kick in the pants.”

The club intends to make a presentation to council about the Forward House and hopes to have support to save the building.

“This is one of the oldest buildings in Iroquois, you tear it down, you’ll never get it back.”

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