Bowling alley for East Hants a tough buy-in for community

A group seeking to build a community-owned bowling alley in East Hants says it's having a tough time getting people in the area to buy in.

East Hants Entertainment is a group of citizens trying to sell $250,000 worth of shares in the complex, which would also include a movie theatre and an arcade. The group has been working on the idea for seven years, with the goal of giving people in the area more local entertainment options. 

"We did get a lot of enthusiasm from people thinking yes, yes, oh yes!" said Louise Sloane, a board member of East Hants Entertainment. Sloane said the group did initial surveys to gauge that interest, but the interest hasn't translated into enough money. 

"Apparently, the will has waned," she said.  

The group offered the shares at $100 each. That money would enable the group to get a construction loan for the $1.5-million project. 

$40,000 sold

So far only $40,000 worth of shares has been sold, possibly because people perceive their group to be seeking donations, said Terry MacFarlane, the group's president. 

"They don't seem to get the idea that this is not a donation thing, it's an investment," he said. "It's an investment in the community itself, in infrastructure that we need."

MacFarlane says anyone who owns a share will have the right to profits from the entertainment complex. However, if the group is unable to raise the money, the $40,000 will be returned. 

The group has been selling shares each week at the local fire hall, and through its website. 

"At times it gets pretty discouraging. We've had one or two days there when we were at the fire hall and nobody showed up," MacFarlane said. 

The group is offering the shares under the provincial Community Economic and Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) program. 

Under the rules that govern CEDIFs, there is a limited amount of time to raise the funding. The group has already extended that deadline once to May 8, and intends to apply to extend the deadline to gather the funds until August.