It’s not often you would think of lawn bowls when referring to an emergency hospital wing, but that’s exactly what one West Coast man thought as his vision to build an indoor complex for the region starts to gather steam.
Spearheading the initiative, convenor David Hastings believes a covered bowling facility could help transform the sport on the West Coast and provide other wide-reaching benefits to other facets of the community.
Wedding functions, sporting hub, youth development facility, health hub, conference facilities and an indoor bowling green are all just the tip of the iceberg, as Hastings paints a picture that will see their proposed facility double up as an 80-bed hospital facility in the case of a natural disaster.
Last year, Hastings formed a working group to tackle the ongoing challenges of bringing a vision like this to fruition, though some 12-months on, both him and his team acknowledge the potential hurdles along the way and appear ready to negotiate them head on.
“We don’t want the facility to become its own club, as we wouldn’t want the other clubs to dwindle – it would simply be the facility that is available to use all year round.
“About 12 months ago, I said we’ve got to do something as our current situation is hopeless. We’ve got to do it properly and get the best we can for both bowls on the coast, and other sports as well.
“We haven’t started to fundraise yet, as we’re wanting to get a feasibility study done and get as much guarantee as we can before proceeding. We’ve sent our proposal to the Minister of Health and other interested parties, so it will be interesting to hear what feedback we get.
“It’s early stages at this point, but we’re all heading in the right direction,” Hastings said.
In recent years, the closure of mines and the economic downturn has seen some clubs close on the coast and maintaining both sponsorship and financial stability is becoming more difficult – prompting a possible offshoot venture from the popular annual West Coast Open tournament.
Keen to boost the local economy, Hasting’s is eager to see the district host an established tourism tour that may see bowlers from around the country and across the Tasman travel to the West Coast and enjoy both a spot of sightseeing and compete in a high-level tournament, pushing both Men’s and Women’s Open Fours.
Bowls New Zealand Chief Executive Mark Cameron applauds Hasting’s vision, pointing out ideas that include establishing an indoor or covered facility for bowls is further helping to push the sport as an all-year round code.
“There’s a lot of really good and positive discussions happening around the country, and it’s encouraging to hear of David’s vision, among others,” Cameron said. “The reality is we’re not exactly a tropical climate here, and it often rains throughout our bowling months and causes a lot of unwanted problems around tournaments and playing conditions.”
“The model of having a covered area works, and I’m not suggesting we need to get to 500 clubs having indoor facilities, but if we were to get say between 50 and 100 dotted around the country, our sport will certainly be for the better.” Mark Cameron, Bowls New Zealand
While no specific costings have yet been requested, the facility price tag is expected to fall between $1.8M and $2.5M, depending on the final design and overall complexity of the building. The working group are presently coordinating with the local council on possible sites and remain hopeful the project will be given the green light in future months.
Watch this space.