Nelson’s only bowling alley will remain open, thanks to a couple of non-profit organizations that have teamed up to save the facility.
The Kootenay Advocacy Network put forward $45,000 to buy Savoy Lanes for the Nelson and Regional Sports Council, which will operate the business going forward.
“It’s a perfect partnership — they didn’t want to run it and we didn’t have the money,” sports council executive director Kim Palfenier said, noting local businesses and organizations have also offered to pitch with in-kind donations to help fix up the facility over the summer.
The bowling alley will be closed for the next three months for renovations. Ramps will be installed to make the facility accessible to people in wheelchairs, and there’re bathroom improvements and tiling work that need to be done. It will also be cleaned up and painted before re-opening in September, when leagues start training for their seasons.
The facility is well used by senior and Special Olympic leagues.
Vince DeVito, treasurer of the Kootenay Advocacy Network, has a son with Down Syndrome who bowls with the Special Olympic teams. He was devastated when he heard news that previous owner Kevin Franz planned to close the business.
“We felt if we lost the bowling alley, we’d never get one back — they cost too much to set up today,” DeVito said.
The Kootenay Advocacy Network, whose primary mandate is to provide low-income housing for people with developmental disabilities, had money in the bank after BC Housing purchased a property it was managing. The non-profit had planned to spend the money in the community, and this seemed like the perfect project, DeVito explained.
“I see it as a viable business that will sustain itself, if it’s marketed properly,” said the longtime businessman and owner of Vince DeVito Specialty Footwear on Hall Street.
“It probably won’t make a huge profit, but it should make enough to keep the doors open and employ a few people.”
The sports council plans to hire a manager to work in the bowling alley and increase programming there. Some of the new offerings could include establishing a junior bowling league, increased availability for party and lane rentals, and theme nights for adults, like galaxy bowling and disco bowling.
“It will be open much more often, and for a broader demographic,” Palfenier said.
The sports council’s objective is to promote all recreational and team sports in the community. It already operates the Civic Arena, which houses the Nelson Sports Museum, and is in talks to take over the Curling Club.