Feb 19, 2018

By Joanne Edey-Nicoll, Instructor

A story recently appeared in the Vancouver Sun about the Vancouver Bridge Club. This club has been at the same location for over 25 years. It’s located in a strip mall that is owned by the City of Vancouver. It attracts people from all over Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, mostly seniors.

The ‘regulars’ at the Bridge Club understand the value of the activity and the space; Some of the comments from the members include, “Sometimes people come two or three times a week”; “It’s the most social, friendly place to come”; “You not only get social reinforcement, you get … brain stimulation. And you also get that feeling of belonging”; “…. It’s social — these are my friends; “There’s a lot of laughter; (Vancouver Sun, 2018).

The future of the club is unknown because the City of Vancouver is renovating the property, turning it into a services hub and the Bridge Club needs to find a new location by October 31, 2018.

The most troubling part of this story is that the Bridge Club thinks that community centre space in Vancouver is out of their reach economically. In other words, they can’t afford to pay the rental fees in community centres. As one of the members states, “What I would like is (for) the community centres to open up their space for us, without costing an arm and a leg,” (Vancouver Sun, 2018).

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but wonder if we have lost sight of what’s important. Municipal Parks and Recreation is a public service that brings significant benefits to our communities. We should be focusing our efforts in removing barriers for groups like the Vancouver Bridge Club, so they can play. We should be supporting everyone in our communities, especially the most vulnerable. Of course, Municipal Parks and Recreation Departments need to be fiscally responsible and stay within their allotted budgets, but if generating revenue is becoming more important than servicing the community, then I think we are heading in the wrong direction.

The Alberta Parks and Recreation Association says it well; “As health care costs skyrocket, awareness is growing that a sustainable future depends on enticing people off the couch and into active lifestyles through recreation and parks. More than just fun and games, local recreation and parks services offer stunning potential to enhance individual, family and community health.”


Bridge over troubled waters for Vancouver seniors. Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/bridge-over-troubled-waters-for-vancouver-seniors February 6, 2018 

In Alberta…Recreation and Parks Matter. Albert Parks and Recreation Association. Retrieved from, http://s3.arpaonline.ca/docs/In-AB-Rec-and-Parks-Matter.pdf

Photo: Vancouver Sun,  February 6, 2018