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Future of 150-year-old local curling club on thin ice, official warns

Club petitions the city for help as viability is threatened; city refuses to reduce fees but is working with club officials 'to find other areas of cost savings'
Orillia Curling Club president Don Kinzinger hopes to introduce more community members to curling next season in an effort to get the club back on a solid financial footing.

The Orillia Curling Club, facing an uncertain future, is looking for a little help from the City of Orillia.

In June 2023, club president Don Kinzinger sent a letter to the city requesting relief for ice rental payments.

"The Orillia Club is currently unable to achieve a break-even level of profitability which is unsustainable and threatens the viability of the club," Kinzinger said in his letter. " Following the two years of COVID, we saw our membership fall about 25 per cent."

When curling did return, the pump at the Barnfield Point Recreation Centre failed two weeks into the season, "resulting in a lost season waiting for a replacement pump," wrote Kinsinger.

"During this time, we saw a further decline in membership to other clubs such as Gravenhurst, Coldwater, Midland and Barrie. With the opening of the new Orillia Recreation Centre and all of its activities, we have also lost some members to other programs," he noted, saying the club lost $10,000 in 2023.

To help the club, the City of Orillia provided two extra bonspiel events at the Barnfield Point Recreation Centre and three card game tournaments in the restaurant at no charge. The city also extended the 2023/24 season by one week.

"The city is always interested in pursuing suggestions from our residents which helps enhance the betterment of our community," Mayor Don McIsaac said in a response to Kinzinger's email.

Despite not receiving the requested ice rental payment relief, Kinzinger says the club is grateful for the city's helping hand through other initiatives.

"We understand that the city needs to charge the fees that it does," he said. "There's really nothing we can do about that. But what we can do is work together to find other areas of cost savings."

The city also allowed the Orillia Curling Club to rent out the lockers at the Barnfield Point Recreation Centre to members with all fees going back into the club.

"It's huge to have the support of the city," Kinzinger said. "It helps us to think outside the box and come up with other areas to generate revenue."

The Orillia Curling Club is considering offering free sessions, learn-to-curl events, and euchre tournaments to help increase membership.

"We're hoping to get non-members exposed to curling," Kinzinger said. "The goal is to encourage and introduce curling to the community."

The Orillia Curling Club celebrated its 150th anniversary earlier this year. Kinzinger says it's "vitally" important to keep that tradition going.

"We feel it's also important to keep our community members active," he said. "Curling is a sport that can facilitate all abilities."

Kinzinger himself has curled for nearly 20 years. While he enjoys the sport, what really hooked him was the camaraderie.

"We have wonderful members," he said. "I just enjoy seeing them week over week and even in the off-season at different events or gatherings."

Registration for the next Orillia Curling Club season will go live in September. For more information about the club and off-season events click here.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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