Terrace woman's persistence helps save city's only bowling alley from closure

Bowlers and seniors in Terrace, B.C., let out a sigh of relief last week when they learned that the city's only bowling alley has escaped closure, after its lease was extended by another three years. 

In July 2019, the city announced it had purchased the land that Barney's Bowl sits on and was planning to turn it into a parking lot and a firehall.

The city said it would lease the properties until May 31, 2020, meaning the bowling alley — a popular meeting place for local seniors — would then have to close. 

But on Jan. 29, an announcement was made on social media that the bowling alley would remain in place.

The change of plans by city council is largely due to the persistence and hard work of avid bowler Chris Olson, 77, who made a presentation to council in December explaining the importance of the venue to the community. 

"I'm so excited. I'm emotional, happy, everything," Olson, 77, told CBC's Josh Pagé after the decision.

"It's really important. I mean, we've got a lot of seniors that bowl on Mondays but can't do anything else."

In December, Olson said bowling has become a lifeline for the 40 seniors who come out to exercise and socialize on Monday nights, especially for those who are alone.

One of Olson's teammates suffered a spinal stroke and uses a cane to bowl. Another one, who is 90 years old, drives in 60 kilometres from Kitimat to bowl with friends. 

"Not only is it exercise, but it's the social aspect too," Olson said.

"We all know about each other. If somebody has got a sick spouse or whatever, this is what we talk about on Monday. We're there for each other, we're a community."

Olson estimated that around 200 to 300 people in and around Terrace use the alley every week. 

Olson also did an on-air interview with CBC's Radio West in December and wrote a letter to the local newspaper in January explaining the bowling alley's importance.

But it wasn't until the mayor phoned her in mid-January to talk about it that she said she felt like the message was sinking in. 

"I was just cautiously optimistic and I thought that if I just kept it out there and kept pushing it ... I thought maybe this city doesn't realize the impact this may have," she said.