The local curling club will be in operation this upcoming season after taking last season off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Howe Sound Curling Club made the decision to take last season off due to so many unknowns related to the pandemic, said Scott Wengi, who manages the Squamish Valley Golf Club where the curling rink is located. As it turned out, he said they would have had to close anyway with further COVID-19 restrictions coming into place last winter.
“The risk was too big if they were forced to shut down,” said Wengi. “It was a good decision that we in the club made here not to run. It saved a lot of heartache [and] headache. So that was fortunate.”
According to Wengi, remaining closed last season means the club will need to raise a lot of revenue this season. To do so, he said they have to get the word out that the club is looking for players.
“They need to ensure that all their leagues are filled and they need to ensure that we get lots of public group bookings,” said Wengi, adding that the club has already been advertising more than usual.
Gary Sims, president of the Howe Sound Curling Club, confirmed that the club has spent more on advertising this year in an attempt to gain new members.
“We spent a little bit more in advertising this year, especially in the Vancouver area,” said Sims. “A couple of the clubs down there have actually closed up, they’re not actually opening this year at all.”
“So, we’re hoping to get some more membership built from those people who aren’t able to curl down there this year as well.”
Sims said he remains hopeful, but there is still some nervousness heading into the season.
“I really, really hope, and our executive is really hoping that we can get enough membership in at least the four of the five night leagues to keep the club going to cover our costs,” he said.
Wengi said that the club will have mandatory masks now that they have been reinstated for indoors. As well, he said that the club would be implementing a proof of vaccination to curl come mid-September when the provincial mandate comes into effect.
“The vaccine passport coming in mid-September sort of alleviates some concerns that some of the older members had,” said Wengi.
The provincial government recently announced that many activities, including indoor fitness centres and indoor group recreational activities, would need proof of vaccination to attend.
On Sept. 13, people will have to show that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine to do these activities. On Oct. 24, people will have to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
Sims added that the club is “making sure that we follow as many safety protocols as possible to make our members feel as comfortable and safe as possible so that they can return to a good curling environment.”
“There is a lot of space out there. You can move around; you don’t have to be necessarily around the other team you’re playing against,” said Sims. “We can modify some rules where you don’t even have to go within 10 feet of somebody.”
If there are any concerns about how these protocols would affect the sport, Sims said the club will still make it be enjoyable.
“We will make it as safe and as fun as possible,” said Sims. “We want to get people to curl because it’s a good sport to play and it’s very active.”
And for those who might be new, Sims said to give it a shot anyway.
“People should try it out at least once. It’s great.”
The registration for the upcoming season will take place in mid-September, and league play will begin in October, said Sims. For more information, visit squamishvalleygolf.com/howe-sound-curling-club or their Facebook page.