By Emily Stonehouse
The sound of bowling balls and the laughter may no longer be heard at 12281 Highway 35 in Minden. Fast Lane Bowling has been open since March 2022, after owners Ron Crump and Debbie Gerzmymisch started renting the space in January of 2022. The partners invested time, money, and energy into establishing a venue the whole community would enjoy. The dream was short lived though, as they were notified on Dec. 2 via letter that their rent at the facility would increase nearly 140 per cent.
“We have to leave,” said Crump, “we have no other choice but to fold.” On top of paying for their own renovations and licensing, Fast Lane also pays for their own utilities. With the previous landlords, all tenants at 12281 Highway 35 had a month-to-month payment agreement, meaning that there is no lease in place. While rent increases are a fairly standard practice, a jump of this proportion can be damaging for the tenants. “I would understand a gradual increase,” said Gerzmymisch, “but we can’t do this much.”
Crump and Gerzmymisch dedicated their facility as a space that was inclusive to everyone, offering sessions to seniors, children, and most consistently, the Haliburton County Red Wolves. The Special Olympics group consisting of 28 athletes with intellectual disabilities has met to bowl every week at the bowling alley since 1997. Yvette Brauer, coordinator of the Haliburton County Red Wolves, was devastated with the closure. “I feel awful about all this,” she said, “we will have nowhere to go.” Brauer noted that many of the athletes thrive with consistency and routines and canceling their weekly events will be very challenging. “This is their social event of the week, I have no idea how to tell them we can’t do it anymore,” she added.
The building was purchased by Hamza Kahlid in April of 2022. Kahlid stated that he feels his hands are tied with the increasing costs of the facility. “In the last 6 months, Bank of Canada increased the interest rate 7 times,” he said, “After increasing the interest rate, the bank left no choice for us but to increase the rent. We don’t want to, but we have no choice.” Khalid said he does not want any of the businesses to leave the facility. “The last owner did not have to face this situation where the interest rate keeps hiking.”
The building houses several other businesses as well, including Pet Tyme – Animal Krackers, Pro Roof, and Sonya’s Unisex Hairstyling. These businesses are all facing a spike in the rent as well.
Sonya Smith, the owner of Sonya’s Unisex Hairstyling, has been in the building for thirty years. “I would like to try to stay until at least the summer,” Smith said, “I know the owners are new, I get that, but I don’t think they understand just how tough the winters can be here.”
There is a GoFundMe page set up for the bowling alley, set up by Trina West, with the hopes of supporting the facility to stay open until the end of the season, which wraps up in April. In it, West stated “The closure of the lanes would affect many seniors, children, adults and our special needs community by preventing us from this recreational outlet and we don’t want to lose it.”
The support would give all the leagues and the Haliburton Red Wolves the opportunity to tie up their year wholly. “We might make it to the end of the season if the rent can be negotiated,” said Crump, “or we can hope to find another venue.”