Rent hike bowls over Minden businesses

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A GoFundMe has been launched to try to keep Fast Lane Bowling in Minden open for the winter after the landlord notified owners Ron Crump and Debbie Gerzymisch Dec. 2 of a substantial rent increase. 

Owners of other businesses in the Shell complex are also facing big jumps. 

However, landlord Hamza Khalid said Bank of Canada interest rate hikes have forced his hand and even with the rent increases, he is still charging less than market rent. 

Trina West launched the GoFundMe after Fast Lane notified community members they were likely to close later this month. “The closure of the lanes would affect many seniors, children, adults and our special needs community by preventing us from having this recreational outlet and we don’t want to lose it. Please help,” West said. 

Crump and Gerzymisch said they were notified of a pending 140 per cent rent hike that would take it to approximately $3,220 a month with taxes, from $1,350. Khalid said that initially he asked to bump it up to $2,850 a month but has since reduced it to $2,100. That is a 75 per cent jump. 

Crump said, “it shuts it down. We just don’t make that kind of money.” Gerzymisch added, “especially in the summer. We’re dead. And in the winter, we have an extra high hydro bill because of the heating.” 

Their hope is that the GoFundMe can get them through to the end of the winter bowling season, which now boasts four leagues, as well as parties, fundraising events and drop-ins. “After that, we’ll go back and try to decide, but basically it will be closed,” Crump said. The two added it, “sucks for everybody involved.” 

Crump said managing the bowling alley was his retirement plan, to supplement income if there were any profits, but also to give himself something to do. Gerzymisch added they have gotten to know the County bowling community. 

She said bowlers will miss their routine, including the Red Wolves Special Olympians. 

Red Wolves upset 

Tracey Pratt of the Special Olympics said they are “shocked and upset … it’s the only sport where all of our athletes compete.”

 She added without the opportunity to bowl locally, they won’t be able to qualify for provincial and national competitions. For example, Pratt’s daughter and other Special Olympians went to nationals in P.E.I. a few years ago for the “experience of a lifetime.” Pratt said even going to the local lanes is huge for Special Olympians, particularly after two years of COVID-19 restrictions. “Everyone was so excited that everyone was back at bowling. It’s not just the bowling. It’s the friendships they’ve made with coaches and volunteers and other athletes. They all look forward to it every week.” 

Susan Andresen of Pet-Tyme-Animal Krackers! said she was informed her rent would be tripling. Khalid said he initially told her the increase would be from $500 a month to $1,450 but he has since put it at $1,250. That’s a 150 per cent increase. Andresen conceded she had been paying below market rent. “We’re looking at all options, whether we stay, or whether we negotiate, or whether we move,” she said.

Andresen added while she wishes her business had not been put in this position – and would have preferred incremental increases and not getting the news just before Christmas – she also recognizes the landlord is a business person too. “Certainly, we don’t need to vilify them.” There are three commercial spaces for rent in Minden Hills listed on realtor.ca. The prices range from $4,800 a month to $8,400 a month, with an average $6,633 a month. 

Khalid said his new rents are not even half of the average on realtor.ca He added with the Bank of Canada continually increasing its rates, it has affected his mortgage, with an anticipated increase of $800-a-month in January. 

“After increasing the interest rate, the Bank of Canada left no choice for us [but] to increase the rent. We don’t want to increase but we have no choice.”