From Ken: [2018-02-16]
IT'S THE LAST WALTZ, BUT IT DON'T MEAN THAT THE PARTY IS OVER. The Band.
The era of the Vancouver Bridge Centre in its present form and location is coming to an end. We have been served notice that our lease will not be renewed and that we are to vacate the premises by October 31, 2018.
Our landlord, the City of Vancouver, and the provincial government are finalizing a 20 year lease agreement for the entire main floor. Extensive seismic upgrades and renovations will be undertaken, after which the premises will become a "hub" for various provincial social agencies, mainly West Coast Family Services, Early Childhood Education, and a few others. There are no provisions in the current plans for the Bridge Centre.
After expressing our feelings of dismay and disappointment to them at a meeting, the City indicated they will mention the needs of the Bridge Centre to the new tenant. But that we should not hold our breath; it's extremely unlikely that we will be able to move back in after the renos. The City has offered to refer us to an agent who would search for a new site, but of course we have to look ourselves as well. Anyone got any ideas?!
I am not optimistic that a comparable site will be found. Certainly not one that can beat our present location. Which is central and convenient to most of our players, the rent is reasonable, decent parking, and in a relatively secure area.
The need for a full time bridge club in Vancouver is probably not up for debate. Many people have told me that this is their second home. They are comfortable with the social environment. This is especially important for the development and retention of new players. I see a bright future for the bridge scene. As the baby boomers retire, bridge is a perfect activity for them. It pretty much provides everything they are looking for: intellectual challenge, social interaction, and an inexpensive pastime. But we need to provide a comfortable and nurturing place for them to come.
At this point in time unless an exceptional site is available, the thought of building a new club and all that entails - from design, to obtaining permits, to overseeing the renos - is not very appealing to me. Committing to a long term commercial lease is scary at the best of times. (One would be on the hook personally for the full financial term of the lease, as well as all legal responsibilities.) So in the immortal words of Bob Dylan: "No, No, No, It Ain't Me Babe"!
What's next? Operating a full time bridge club is, well, a full time job. Anyone want to step up to the plate? To this end I have proposed to the Unit Board that they consider setting up a not for profit society for the purpose of operating a bridge club on a long term basis. I donít see any other viable alternative at this point. I would of course be willing to help in any way I can.
Bridge will still be played somewhere. It will survive. But without a full time club it may not be as vibrant. It's my sincere wish that a new site can be found. If not, well we have been fortunate to have had a long run at this location. I thank you all for your support over the years. I will keep you posted as new developments take place.
Vancouver Bridge Centre