A Community Story: Re-Thinking How We Use Commercial Space

The Rideau Curling Club occupies an entire block of centrally located space in downtown Ottawa from Cooper Street to Lisgar Street. It’s been a long standing institution in Ottawa, established in 1888. During the winter months it’s a busy time at the Club, with curling teams young and old filing in and out of the facility from morning until late night. Related events and celebrations keep the staff busy seven days a week. The facility includes 5 sheets of ice, a bar, an upstairs banquet space and a space for spectators on the second level. 

Curling is very much a winter sport though. This begs the question, what happens in the summer months with all that space?

This was the question on my mind when I approached the Club in 2018. With so much space, ample parking, and a great location I saw nothing but opportunity in this hidden gem. I was looking for spaces that could benefit from a new idea - an “AirBnB” for business spaces. We would help people find spaces for meetings and events by using existing buildings and businesses in a new way. This first of course required finding the spaces.

After some introductions, I asked the manager, Pierre, what happens in the summer months? “Well,” he said “we melt the ice and it’s basically an empty space with a big slab of concrete for a few months.” 

“The rest of the space is also woefully underused during this time.”

Let’s recap: we have a centrally located space, with ample parking, with about 1500 square feet of banquet facilities and another 3000 sq feet for almost any type of event. Hello opportunity.

Fast forward to 2020, and the Rideau Curling Club has seen a significant increase in use. As a Host on upSpace, they offer two spaces for rent: the upstairs banquet hall, and the “ice shed” (the big slab of concrete). The banquet hall can be used for anything from birthday parties to photography shoots. The ice shed is the perfect space for community events like farmers markets and even roller derby!

The Club is one of the most affordable spaces on upSpace, asking $25/hour for use of the space. Combine this rate with ample parking and a central location and it’s perfect for the people on upSpace who are looking for space for meetings and events.

A Success Story - A Teacher In Need

So who uses space like the Rideau Curling Club? Well, one of our users, Mary, was looking for a space to teach her weekly music lessons. As you can imagine, it was tough finding a space that would be understanding of the noise generated by 25+ violins for a few hours. Mary was also on a budget which limited her options. Mary found the Club on upSpace and after a successful initial booking with them in 2018, has been a regular customer ever since. Her students appreciate the centrally located space and she appreciates the Club allowing her to use their space on weekday evenings.

As for the Club, Pierre is pleased with the increased activity and the new energy that has been brought into the space. What was before a space for dust bunnies to collect is now a revenue generating machine for the Club, in more ways than one.

“Our upstairs hall used to be empty every evening and now with upSpace we have regular rentals. And within each rental we usually get an additional 5% return with other guest events.”

If you’re looking for a large space to host an event, the best time to book with the Club is during the off-season from May to August. The upstairs banquet space is available year round but with limited availability in the winter. To send an inquiry, making a booking, or find more information, check out their listing at https://upspace.ca/spaces/48



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