It’s been a long time coming but the decision is now final! As of November 30, 2017, the Ottawa Tennis & Lawn Bowling Club (OTLBC) is officially a not-for-profit corporation serving residents in Old Ottawa South and the community at-large.
OTLBC is not new to our neighborhood. Located in the heart of Old Ottawa South between Brewer Park and the Rideau River, the Ottawa Tennis & Lawn Bowling Club is one of the hidden historical treasures of the nation’s Capital. In 1922 five acres of land south of Cameron Avenue was purchased by the Ottawa Tennis & Lawn Bowling Association and in 1923 the two-storey tennis and lawn bowling club opened with 20 new clay tennis courts and two eight-rink bowling greens facing the Rideau River.
What is new, however, is OTLBC’s official status as a not-for-profit organization. Since 1939 the Club has been operating on a quasi not-for-profit basis with a shareholder structure. Under current legislation in the province of Ontario this ambiguity between “for profit” and “not for profit” had to be resolved before the Club could move forward.
The Ottawa Tennis & Lawn Bowling Club has relied heavily on its volunteers for survival and like any volunteer organization the struggle to break even financially has had its ups and downs over the last 137 years. In 1939 the shareholder structure was adopted to raise capital and to save the Club from bankruptcy. In 2017 however this structure no longer reflected the evolving vision and operational style of the Club. Something had to give!
“Let there by no confusion, OTLBC is not a privately-owned club. It is officially, as of November 2017, a not-for-profit organization that welcomes anyone who wishes to join,” said Jenny Mitchell, President of OTLBC’s Board of Directors, “and we’re enthusiastic about a variety of ideas and activities to make sure the residents of Old Ottawa South and the community at large benefit from this beautiful facility.”
The OTLBC provides a complete summer experience that includes tennis, swimming, volleyball, dining and relaxation. Under its new status as a not-for-profit organization, OTLBC hopes to become more eligible for grants that can assist in upgrades to its infrastructure and thereby improving its services to both members and the general public.
Unlike most clubs, OTLBC membership is not about being exclusive; it’s about generating enough funds for the Club’s general maintenance and operational costs. As Maria Pierre-Noel, General Manager of OTLBC, puts it, “we would like to open our doors to more OOS residents who would like to take advantage of the Club on a more casual basis.”
For example, it’s a little-known fact that dining on the Club’s second-floor balcony is not restricted to “club members only” but is open to the general public as well. “We want to change perceptions like this and we hope the community will consider the Club a destination to connect with others,” continues Pierre-Noel, OTLBC’s General Manager.
The ambiance of the OTLBC for those of us who have known it from one generation to the next is very much like having your very own cottage without the commute. Built during the Victorian era the lower veranda and upper balcony face the enclosed grounds of the Club with its tennis courts, swimming pool & volley ball playgrounds. For kids it’s a safe environment where they can swim, meet with friends, play tennis, watch some great tennis matches, and meet with family for lunch or dinner in the upstairs lounge.
“We are always looking to promote & increase OTLBC membership,” says Pierre-Noel, “but we are also enthusiastic about exploring more opportunities for non-members. We want to be your go-to place in the city where being outdoors is everything. The possibilities are endless: yoga/pilates classes, aqua fit, special events with live bands, dancing, parties for special occasions or simply dinner when it is too hot to cook.”