Popular Burnaby bowling facility facing closure after more than 60 years in business

After 60 years, vice president Rob Taylor says Revs Bowling in Burnaby has been sold and will soon close down for a new development.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
After 60 years, vice president Rob Taylor says Revs Bowling in Burnaby has been sold and will soon close down for a new development. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Revs Burnaby Bowling Centre is facing closure after the property was purchased by Keltic Canada Development last month.

The popular bowling alley and entertainment centre was first opened in 1962 and will remain open for the time being until redevelopment and demolition plans are approved.

Rob Taylor, the vice president of Revs Entertainment Group, says the facility is one of the last bowling alleys in Burnaby and one of the latest alleys to close in the Lower Mainland.

"Unfortunately, due to extremely high property taxes for over a decade, we've had no choice but to sell this property to a local developer," he said.

Taylor and patrons of the alley say it's unfortunate to have entertainment centres close down due to high costs and the straggling impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope other facilities in the Lower Mainland will be able to overcome challenges and remain open for future generations.

"Unfortunately, we're in the loonie toonie business, so you have to make a lot of loonies and toonies to break water," said Taylor.

"We love the business. We love the people. People come see us to have a good time, and we welcome that for sure."

Other bowling alleys and entertainment centres owned by Revs Entertainment in Coquitlam, Surrey and Maple Ridge have not been sold and are still open.

WATCH | Patrons bowling and talking about the closure:

'No other choice'

Taylor says he first fell in love with the sport of bowling when he was 16 years old, which later inspired him to get into the business.

"I've been [a part of the bowling community] more or less my entire life," he said, adding the Burnaby alley's business struggled for many years due to high property taxes.

"We had no other choice but to sell … and with COVID-19 affecting us all, having our business shut down [in Burnaby] and a number of our other centres shut down as well, it was just the end of the day for us."

He notes the property tax value is based on the "highest and best use" of the property and not on the business currently there.

"[The city is] taxing what they think this property should have, and in their opinion, it should have multiple towers and a commercial component," he said.

Julian Ward, vice president of development at Keltic Canada Development, says this is exactly what the company plans to do.

He says the property is at a great location between Brentwood Town Centre and the Holdom SkyTrain station, and new development will create housing and commercial opportunities.

"We're hoping to develop a mixture of two or three highrise towers that would contain approximately 1,500 market homes and will also contain approximately 20,000 to 40,000 square feet of commercial retail space," Ward said.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

According to Bowl B.C., there are over 50 bowling centres in the province. In a statement, program co-ordinator Salina Kennedy says facility closures are not due to a lack of business but due to property values and strict pandemic policies.

"A large number of centres are reporting they are very busy with public bowling, families and birthday parties ... [but] a couple didn't make it through B.C. Health's strict policies for small [businesses]."

"When your business is closed, and that's your [family's] source of income to put food on the table, choices have to be made," Kennedy said.

Community staple 

Robert Dube says Revs' Burnaby bowling alley has been a staple in his life for over 25 years.

"It's heartbreaking … I can't not think of a memory here and just having a blast with everybody coming together," he said.

To Nisarg Patel, the bowling alley is a key part of his journey to Canada.

He says he not only made new friends and memories at the location but also learned to bowl there for the first time.

"I'm going to miss this one … I didn't go out much in my home country back in India, so this is kind of my first bowling place, and I've been coming here … every two to three months."

Keltic Canada's Ward has also frequented the bowling alley over the years. While he's sad to see it go, he says there were no other options for the business.

"It's not economical for the current business to survive, and it's a shame … but I guess you can't stop progress to a certain degree," he said, adding Keltic Canada Development would be open to having Revs return in the future.

"We're in the very, very early stages of the massing and design, so we haven't really formulated what the buildings are going to look like. But we do have a commercial component," he said.

"So if Revs [Entertainment] or another bowling company were interested, we would entertain the idea like any commercial business."