We've been shafted, PoCo senior snooker players tell city

The city of Port Coquitlam is under fire for failing to provide an adequate number of snooker tables for the Wilson Centre Seniors, a move that has resulted in the club being banned from playing in the Lower Mainland Seniors Snooker League.

A week after Port Coquitlam’s $132-million community centre opened last month, hockey officials complained about the lack of dressing rooms for referees — an issue that threatened to scuttle games had it not been resolved a week later.

Now, the city is under fire for failing to provide an adequate number of snooker tables for the Wilson Centre Seniors, a move that has resulted in the club being banned from playing in the Lower Mainland Seniors Snooker League.

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“It’s a shame,” league president Gary Spence told The Tri-City News Wednesday. “This club will probably fade away and not exist because it can’t be part of the league. They don’t meet the regulations. They aren’t eligible.”

Under the league’s constitution, its clubs must have at least three snooker tables to compete in league matches — and preferably four, he said.

But when the city reorganized the Wilson Centre space for the new recreation complex, it cut the number of snooker tables from four to two and placed the pair in the games room, which can be used by the public.

Award-winning snooker players Bruce Hansen (a past president of the Wilson Centre Seniors Advisory Association), Wayne Young and Keith Walker told The Tri-City News Monday that decision poses several problems as inexperienced players can damage the table felt and pockets; as well, the tables are now located in an open room that includes other games such as table tennis, which can distract snooker players.

Hansen said he raised the issue of the required the snooker table allotment several years ago with city’s Healthy Communities Committee, of which Mayor Brad West was then a member, as discussions around the future community centre were being held.

But his lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears.

Joan Gould, acting president of the Wilson Centre Seniors Advisory Association, said it was the city’s decision to have two snooker tables. “There seems to be some controversy about how many people played,” she told The Tri-City News Tuesday.

In an emailed statement, PoCo’s recreation director, Lori Bowie, said while the old Wilson Centre had a dedicated snooker room with four tables, “this room was exclusively used by a small group of senior men,” she wrote. “For a small number of regular players, typically 12 to 15 who were not hosting league play, a dedicated space with more than two tables was not needed.”

She added: “To enhance the use of the new games room, it has been designed to host a variety of games and users while, at the same time, providing ample opportunities for seniors to use the two snooker tables.”

Bowie said city managers will monitor patterns of use and programming needs and interests in the community centre’s first year, then schedules will change in response to demands for times and activities.

Currently, snooker playing hours at the centre are: Monday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $1 per play for Wilson Centre members, $3 for non-members or $8.50 a month for a games room activity fee.

Hansen disputes the number of active players — claiming it’s 29, more than double Bowie's assessment — and he said he’s now had to join the Pitt Meadows snooker club in order to stay in the league; others have signed up with Dogwood Pavilion in Coquitlam or in Maple Ridge.

“We’ve been shafted,” Walker said.

Spence, who’s a member of the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge snooker groups, said the loss of PoCo’s club means the league will drop from 11 to 10 centres.

“There are three key things with snooker: It’s mental, it’s physical and it’s social. And, for seniors of course, those are very important to living a healthy life.” 

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