Sometimes strange things happen. Sometimes, a provincial government organization – say for example, BC Assessment – doesn’t know that a building exists – say for example the Valemount Curling Club.

Seems a little ridiculous, since anyone walking by or looking on Google Maps can see it’s there – yep, a large long building, marked Valemount Curling Club, right there at 98 Elm St, next to the skating rink and the elementary school playground. But sometimes, strange things happen.

While the discovery and correction of this situation was smart on behalf of the Village, it is unfortunate for the Curling Club, which has been struggling in recent years.

Now if BC Assessment (that crown corporation that assigns a value to a property so that a municipality can then decide the fair share of taxes due to the owners of that property) doesn’t know that the Valemount Curling Club existed, they never would have sent anyone an assessment notice for it, and it would not be in the list of properties that the Village of Valemount can gather property taxes from. Maybe, if anyone in the village had thought of it, they might have assumed that the building was owned by the Village (as certainly the land it sits on is), and therefore wouldn’t be taxed (doesn’t really make sense for the Village to tax itself…). But the Curling Club building is owned by the Club itself, not by the Village.

When the Village recently did an inventory of the properties it owns, exactly this strange state of affairs was discovered. Certainly a smart thing for the Village to do (and maybe a reminder to us all to review our own paperwork occasionally). And so the Curling Club has received its first notice of assessment, and this year, will receive its first tax bill.

While the discovery and correction of this situation was smart on behalf of the Village, it is unfortunate for the Curling Club, which has been struggling in recent years. Of course, everyone is, and there’s no reason why the curling club should get any more preferential treatment than any other non-profit group. But the fact remains that, if nothing changes, property tax will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I am not a member of the curling club, I’ve curled exactly 4 games in my life (three of them at the last Bonspiel), but I would hate to see this club disappear.

I know some avid curlers, and I know that the sport of curling has been struggling in recent years, but some are making valiant efforts to keep the sport alive. Curling was added to the Winter
Olympics official program in 1998, and has a growing presence on national sports stations like TSN and CBC. The Canadian Curling Association (the governing body for the sport in Canada) promotes over 14 Canadian and world championships, including Juniors, Men’s, Women’s, Mixed, Senior and Wheelchair categories. Many clubs also now offer dedicated “Stick Leagues”, where you don’t have to squat down to throw the rock, you guide and release it with a special stick (and you don’t need to wear that slider). Though it’s not yet allowed in Championship play, you can actually use the stick in any league. Curling is accessible to just about everyone, and it is not expensive, since the basic requirement is a clean pair of shoes to wear on the ice. Most clubs have supplies of brooms (and sliders if you want to try them) and curlers have a reputation of being welcoming, and willing to share and teach their sport.

But it usually takes a large membership for a club to survive. Clubs with three sheets (three games can be carried on at once) like we have here in Valemount might take 500 members to thrive on curling alone, and though that would be really interesting to see here in Valemount, that may not a realistic goal. But, we have an existing building, with a kitchen and a bar, and it is also housing the Valemount Food Bank, at no charge to them. We have an existing resource, and I am sure the great minds in Valemount can come up with a way to save it, if we want to.

If you want to try curling, this weekend is a great chance. Diana Piper is organizing the last Bonspiel of the season, starting Friday March 22 with a Glow In The Dark 50/50 Shoot Out. Anyone can try the Shoot Out, and entry into the Bonspiel is $40 per person ($160 per team) which includes dinner and door prizes on Saturday night. Contact Diana at 250-566-9974 if you want to play.

Korie Marshall