York Urbanist

Posts Tagged ‘curling’

Shut Down the Scarboro Curling Facility!

October 10th, 2017
Curling, Sports, Transportation issues

The shuttering of Scarboro Golf and Country Club is about ego.  Scarboro Curling logo

The announcement echoes from Thornhill, St. Georges, Board of Trade (Woodbridge), Humber Highlands, and Weston. All relented to the arrogance of a community, who themselves are under siege.  Thornhill and St. Georges brought in the accountants, who factored in the benefits of curling keeping the club open in the winter.  They remain…for now.  Board of Trade also brought in the accountants, who, by virtue of discussions only with golfers, determined that the curling facility was a drag on the club.  Interestingly, the club found need to sell within a few short years.  Humber Highlands, well, I am too young to understand what happened there, but I suppose it might have to do with non-curling accountants and golfers.  And the rumours abound about Weston.

But Scarboro is different, I suppose.  The accountants are unlikely to have dictated the demise of curling at SG&C.  Metrolinx is the fall guy!  That fat transportation group needs the land for their new transportation facilities. The interesting part though, is that the new facility did not have to go where the curling facility is today! SG&C chose to allow the curling function to leave the premises.  Yes, they got their compensation, but curiously, could a part of the compensation have gone to a rebuild?

Return to the other golf and curling clubs.  They are unable or reticent to treat the curling functions of their clubs as a business entity. Golfers pay a princely sum to afford the maintenance of 150 acres of land plus programming in their extravagant edifices. When curlers are introduced into the mix, more persons can afford this less expensive facility investment.   This is where the conflict arises.  The golf club members (who do not curl) endear their exclusivity, created by the privilege of their fees. In the 1960′s, when curling became an exceptional add-on to a Country Club, the golfers never contemplated curling plebes.  The exclusivity for the golf member is diminished by participants in the curling facility paying much lower rates.  Now, as curling facilities age, the ego of the golf members holds court.

But golf is a battered sport. Their facilities are depleting. In a way, they may have reacted by protecting their own turf. But for a former curler, Mackenzie Hughes, and a young Canadian phenom, Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, there might be few hooks onto which the golf community to put its hat.

The curling fraternity should not lament the loss of six sheets of ice.  The curling community should look inwardly to determine if they have a business case  And, there is a case to be made for year-round facilities and in the economic benefits that curling derives.  See http://yorkurbanist.com/2017/02/10/collingwood-cc-a-curling-success/ and http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/01/29/2015-ontario-scotties-as-economic-generator/  New facilities could be part of new residential, commercial or recreation developments, if only the entrepreneurs could also be curlers.


April 20th, 2014
Curling, Recreation

In the coming weeks, this blog will create a hypothetical and entrepreneurial approach to rebuilding the sport of curling in the fictional community of Aasvogel, Ontario.  The story is based on a true life and death of a curling club. Curling is not a dying sport as reported elsewhere. The seeds of curling are able to be planted in any community.

Starting as a Dutch farm community, the village became affected by the changing Greater Toronto Area.  The farm-predominant community looked for activities for the winter. Scots farm immigrants had started a four-sheet curling club in 1951.The Scots imported curling and together one hundred formed a group who built a community centre mostly with volunteer labour and donated materials. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s, the membership grew to 250 but little else changed. Volunteers continued to run the club, making ice, catering events and running leagues for men.  Children of the founding members, baby boomers, provided the regeneration needed to sustain the club into the golden years of curling, the 1970’s. But some things changed.  The third generation was not large enough to provide natural growth for the club. Women wanted to join.  Opportunities to leave the community drew high schoolers to universities away from home. 

But alas, the community demographics changed while the curling membership stood still. Attrition at the normal rate of 15% was not countered by new members from a changing community.  Word-of-mouth had always worked in the past (1951 to 1980). But the club closed in 1988, unable to meet cost obligations. In 2014, the community of Aasvogel is a typical suburban community, population 20,000, whose cultural makeup continues to change.

So what happened?

During the later life of the club, new generations of immigrants and urban dwellers were buying into the community, because there was more land for less cost.  The town population was growing but the club membership was shrinking.

And the sport, in 1988, was isolated to a knowledgeable group of recreationists.

The volunteer board struggled with the shrinkage, not risking their friendships in the farm community by changing directions and fees. Why change what worked in the past?

Finally, the cost of replacing the 30 year-old compressor and plant parts would require $300,000. With fewer than 200 members, the board could not find the money through either donations nor fee increases and the club was forced to close.

What really went wrong?

Fear of Change: This was a proud club formed around a distinct demographic.  The members became comfortable, so much so that there was little long-term planning. The demographic change was coincident with population growth.  The club board failed to engage the new community members. 

Competition: The new community members were unfamiliar with the sport, the Town of Aasvogel built and subsidized an arena in which hockey dominated.  The arena was multi-functional, providing a facility available to the new community members.

Planning, Operations and Budget: The aging curling building had construction/maintenance problems, making it a hazardous facility, and not up to current regulations.  Without capital having been accumulated to cover depreciation of the asset, there was no fund to replace the asset.

Weakening Voluntarism:  Suburbanization caused families to spend more time commuting to workplaces.  Women joined the workforce in ever increasing numbers.  Adult volunteers became more scarce daytime and evenings.  The operations of the formerly volunteer run club struggled to continue without changing their program.

Demographic Change: The former curling demographic no longer could populate the club naturally. The new immigrant population was not educated about the sport.  The aging population does not bode well for the future of the curling club.

Does any of this hit home?  In the coming articles, we suggest that a new community curling facility can be built. We will break the steps down in each article.

Go to http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/curling-a-recreation-to-a-business/re-forming-the-core-group/ to see the next steps.



Curling – Year of Youth 2013

April 29th, 2013
Curling, Sports


Youth Reigns
- Rachel Homan’s team (ages 23-27) wins Scotties
- Brad Jacob’s Team (ages 27-33) wins Brier
- Niklas Edin Swedish Team (ages 24-25) wins Worlds
- Eve Muirhead (21) wins Worlds

Curling legitimized its place as a sport of athletes through the results of this transition year. The timing could not be better as the Olympics are less than a year away and contemplating growth of the number of golds to the sport. Although Martin, Stoughton and Howard continue to hold court at the 8-end events, they weakened during the weeklong Brier. The fittest survived as did the Scotties champions.

Interestingly, it was the seniors of Canada who pulled off the double gold. You’ll say we told you so about Canada’s dominance with those results, but that is just evidence that the players of the past had less requirement to be the fittest…but perhaps they were the craftiest.

Crafty is what Howard, Martin and Stoughton have, but Martin’s loss of Johnny Morris will further weaken his ability to win unless he comes up with a youthful, crafty and fit replacement. And Colleen Jones this year showed skills of the past, but next year will watch the youth of Nova Scotia vie for the Scotties, I suspect.

What I liked to see this year was the emergence of an active and youth oriented sport stateside. The USA has seen more dedicated ice added to the landscape and more in the offing. One off the podium at the US championships, 31 year old Tyler George enlisted the 25 year old Chris Plys to vice. And then there is the just out of juniors Dropkin team in the hunt for nationals and colleges. The Ontario Junior Curling Tour has been around since Wes Johnson invented it in 2004. Nine years and growth of competition was the breeding ground for Homan and Jacobs. Look at the website now. You will read names of future national champions.

Curling is healthy, growing in Ontario and Quebec and USA, and Mixed Doubles has become infectious in Europe as success (and Canada’s lack of success) breeds an excitement that will, in a generation, create a sport that becomes less dominated by the origin-claimant nations. Watch for another spurt of new curling fans and participants with the results coming in from Sochi.
Curling Clubs: prepare yourselves to grow your membership via the Olympic (and youthful) movement!

Following Team Keon – The Dominion

November 20th, 2012
Recreation, Sports
We are deep into curling season and a national championship is upon us.

Team Ontario - Jordan Keon; Curtis Samoy; Trevor Talbott; Michael Keon

Team Keon became Team Ontario at the national Dominion Championships. They won their first game. Expect great things from this Richmond Hill Team.
See more curling at http://yorkurbanist.com/curling/ and http://www.curling.ca/thedominioncurls/about/
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team Nova Scotia for second win.
UPDATE: Team Newfoundland defeats Team Ontario 5-1 after taking commanding 4-0 lead in second end.
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team Quebec 8-4; three undefeated teams ahead – MB, AB, SK – nothing else to do than curl on the Prairies.
UPDATE: Team Ontario defeats Team PEI 9-1, More potatoes for dinner! Red dirt trails seen leaving Scarborough GC&C; Prairie lads can’t lose (do they not play each other?)
UPDATE: Team Saskatchewan prairie rolls over Team Ontario 7-4 proving that the westerners are more comfortable on flat surfaces.
UPDATE: Team Ontario wins tiebreaker against Newfoundland. 9-4; Islanders Rocked in the second with a five-ender. Blue-noses next
UPDATE: The road ended in Nova Scotia for the Team Ontario – 8-4, having given up a trey in the 8th.

New Street Sport

January 11th, 2012
Recreation, Uncategorized

Sometimes a youtube video comes along that combines both our love of sport and urban design.

A new Street Sport emerges, Watch:


Curling Clubs

November 20th, 2011

Visited East York Curling Club for a bonspiel yesterday. During the event the Compressor stopped and was out for three hours making play unpleasant.

This is a harbinger for most of the curling facilities built in their heydays of 1960′s. Not only are the plants needing replacement, but the functionality of the spaces ‘behind the glass’ have not kept current.

Issues: City owned properties follow standard protocols that do not keep up with sport improvements. The club is encumbered by the bureaucracy and unable to engage the members. Other clubs suffer from lack of planning for capital costs in the future.

Remedy: Lease buildings from municipalities and operate independently, including building improvements. Administer a capital fund of about $10 per month on each member.