The Bonnyville Bingo Association needs a new home in a few months, but finding one that suits their needs is proving difficult. They say if no new space is found, bingo will end in Bonnyville.
For several years, the Agriplex has hosted bingo Thursday-Sunday nights.
On June 26, they received a letter from the Centennial Centre that they would have to move to another venue by the end of February. The C2 is planning to expand the Agriplex to a multi-use facility for events and athletics space.
So far their search has come up empty for a space that’s between 6000-8000 square feet, with multiple washrooms, outdoor lighting, and accessibility for seniors.
President of the Bonnyville Bingo Association, Anne Landry, says that because they are a non-profit company they have little money in the bank to make a down payment.
“The only way we are allowed to save money is if we’re told we need to when we set our budget in November. We have no money in the bank. Now we have to move. We can’t go build a place because we don’t have any money to put down a down payment. We can’t move somewhere and renovate it because we don’t any money in the bank for a down payment,” said Landry.
“We’re running out of time and don’t have a place to go.”
Bingo largely serves an older clientele. The change makes Landry think that seniors are being left out of what the C2 can provide.
“These are seniors that have no other activities. There are few other activities available to seniors. So even for groups of women, men, couples, to just go out, buy some fries, dance for awhile – it generates such great sums of money for these thirteen charities.”
“It comes back to the question of what is the purpose of the C2: is it to be there to service the community? Well, we are servicing a different community than they want to.”
Along with the rent they pay, bingo pays out thirteen local charities and clubs $160,000 a year. That money could impact organizations like the Bonnyville Amateur Football Association in a hurry.
During their delegation Tuesday at Bonnyville council, Mayor Sobolewski said the town wants bingo.
The C2 committee board appointed Chad Colbourne to help the bingo association make contacts and find leads for a new space.
“The bingo is a very integral part of our community. There’s $160,000 they’re putting back into the community every year, it’s important that we not only keep them alive, but help them and support them to find a new home,” said Colbourne.
The believe is that if work is being done to find a new home, that February date could be extended.
“As long as everybody has actively worked and exhausted all leads and seen what can be put out there: that’s all we’re looking for,” said general manager of the C2, Todd Muir.
“We all believe in bingo – believe in its community need for funding the different groups…hopefully if everybody works together it will work out,” said Muir.
In the meantime, the bingo volunteers will continue to work to keep it alive in Bonnyville. But if no home is found, Landry says it might mean the end.
“If we cannot find somewhere to go we will close. We are not going to re-open in six months, re-open in a year,” said Landry.