Bowling alleys risk ending up in the scupper

The coming months are going to be difficult for the owners of bowling alleys in Quebec who fear not having the financial capacity to get through the next low season.

• Read also: Orthodox in the face of instructions, but tired of being closed

Since Monday, bowling alleys can open their doors at 50% capacity. This moment was eagerly awaited for the owners who are obviously relieved to resume their activities, but they are also very worried about the future.

For many, the situation is even critical, according to the president of the Association of owners of bowling alleys of Quebec, Bobby Wilky.

“We are around 150 bowling alleys in Quebec and there are a dozen, minimum, which have closed since the start of the pandemic. The last lockdown hurt a lot. If we do not have support during the summer, I am afraid that it will go to others who will not be able to restart the wheel.

The situation is critical, according to the president of the Association of owners of bowling alleys of Quebec, Bobby Wilky.

Courtesy picture

The situation is critical, according to the president of the Association of owners of bowling alleys of Quebec, Bobby Wilky.

Closed since December 20, the bowling alleys have already lost several weeks of activities that are unrecoverable.

“Obviously when we closed, in the middle of the season, it hurts us a lot more than people might think. It is during this period that we accumulate money to get through the summer period. In summer, that represents 1% or 2%, big maximum, of our turnover,” adds Stéphane Lépine, owner of the Montmorency bowling alley in Quebec.

“For several salons, the situation is really critical. We are truly the forgotten ones. All owners currently feel left out,” he says.

The Quilles G Plus family business owns seven bowling alleys in the Montreal area.

“Last year, we didn’t have a season. This year again, we were closed for two months. Most leagues will not resume their weeks. So, yes, it will be very difficult for the industry,” said Stéphane Gratton, co-owner.

Identity problem

Throughout the pandemic, bowling alleys have been tossed from one category of activity to another by the government, but we feel that the owners are running out of patience.

“From the start, we did it at the convenience of the government. In the last two years, we have been open for the equivalent of six months during the high season. During the first confinement, we were closed from mid-March to the end of June. For us, reopening in June is like saying to ski resorts, ‘You can open in the middle of summer,’” Wilky said.

After being placed in the same group as billiards and darts, bowling alleys were put together with recreation centers. Therefore, they can only operate at 50% capacity until March 14, unless there is a change.

Moreover, Mr. Wilky cannot explain this vagueness surrounding the identity of this sport since even the Ministry of Education and Higher Education recognizes the Regroupement des quilles du Québec in its long list of sports federations.

“They shouldn’t have any trouble fitting us in, but they do,” he said.

Either way, bowling alley owners are getting tough.

“Our sports federation has met with the sports ministry to ask for explanations and those that have been provided to us are far from satisfactory,” he added.

The APSQQ therefore asks the provincial government to do its part to protect SMEs that are threatened in this industry by offering subsidies or tax credits to ensure the relaunch of bowling alleys.

In addition, they are calling on the federal government to extend the rent subsidy and wage subsidy programs beyond May 7.


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