The Williams Lake Curling Club has taken its first steps to becoming a fully accessible facility.
Work began earlier this month on the construction and installation of a new elevator shaft, which will connect the main entrance, lobby level and change rooms to the ice level shortly above, and to the lounge and spectator viewing area on the top floor.
Ken Hall, manager of the WLCC, said the idea is to provide people of all abilities an opportunity to fully participate and enjoy the sport of curling and to also allow for the club to house guests of all mobility levels at community events and functions.
Currently, the three levels of the club are only accessible by stairs. Hall said when the building was constructed in 1977, accessibility wasn’t a consideration.
“It’s nice to be able to get this project on the go,” he said, adding the total cost will be around $150,000.
Part of the cost will be paid for through a Red Cross grant received by the club following the 2017 B.C. wildfires, however, Hall said the club would be willing to accept donations for the completion of the elevator, and rest of the facility.
The club has hired Hoelzler Construction to do the work, who has contracted Norm’s Carpentry Inc., to build the elevator.
Being forced to shut down its regular season in late December for the second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said many members were extremely generous in donating their remaining membership dues and league fees back to the club.
Quesnel national-level wheelchair curler Alison Duddy, who also works with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association as an accessibility specialist, visited the club earlier this spring to view the facility and to offer advice and recommendations to the club.
Hall said if some more funding — whether it be through fundraising initiatives, grants or donations — can be secured, the club would like to add mechanical, automatic doors to the elevator, and upgrade the washrooms to become fully accessible.
“We took a bit of a hit financially from the pandemic, but we were lucky we were fairly strong before it began,” Hall said.
In a normal year, the club hosts curling leagues for all skill levels throughout the fall and winter, several bonspiels, community events and youth curling programs.
If anyone is interested in supporting the club’s accessibility project they can contact Hall at the curling club at email@example.com or by calling 250-392-4636.