Dragons hot for new Paradise boathouse
By Mark Squibb/February 24, 2022
The site of the old Furniture Clinic at 1717 Topsail Road will one day be home to a new community boathouse fronting onto Octagon Pond.
The Avalon Dragons, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team formed in 2006, are partnering with the Town of Paradise for the design and construction of the boat house, which will be the future home for the Avalon Dragons.
“We are excited,” said Treva Aberle, chairperson of the Avalon Dragons. Aberle said the Dragons had been storing their boats in shipping containers, one of which fronts on Octagon Pond, and two of which are located on a nearby property, and that a permanent boathouse from which they can launch their boats will be a huge step up.
“There will be a memorandum of understanding, but as the Avalon Dragons understand it, the Avalon Dragons are going to be sort of a primary tenant,” said Aberle. “As well as providing some financial contribution towards the construction and so on.”
Aberle also thinks the permanent installation will grow community interest not just in Dragon Boating, but in boating in general, adding the boathouse will also be used for non-motorized community boating, such as kayaking and canoeing.
“Now, the Town of Paradise will also be able to offer those kinds of programs in their recreation program, to youth and so on,” said Aberle, explaining that youth who takes up boating might just stick with it in their adult years, keeping the tradition strong and alive.
The Dragons have already met with the town to discuss design elements, and the former Furniture Clinic building was demolished in September, but it may be some time yet before shovels go into the ground.
“As far as I understand, this year it’s a budgetary consideration, as they’re working it into the budget and searching for that design team and architects that will design it next year, being 2023,” said Aberle. “Construction will then hopefully take place. The Dragons certainly don’t disillusion themselves in thinking that they’ll be using the building next year, but probably by the beginning of the 2024 season there might be an opportunity to launch from that building.”
Looking towards the future, the Town plans on hosting the annual SunSplash Paddle in Paradise Festival this summer, after being cancelled the last two summers because of the pandemic.
“That is very exciting, and it’s very important for us to reestablish the group and to establish Dragon Boating in the province,” said Aberle, adding that teams across the province have had to halt almost all activities.
This year’s festival will be touted as a delayed 10th year anniversary celebration of the Paddle in Paradise Festival. If not for COVID, that anniversary celebration would have been marked in 2020.
Dragon boating originated from the Pearl River Delta region of China untold years ago, and today’s modern sport has roots in ancient tradition and religion. The brightly colored boats are rigged with decorative dragon heads and tails, and never fail to turn heads.
Dragons, in many different Asian cultures, are closely linked with bodies of water, rivers, and even rain and mists.
The town is currently seeking input from the public about the boathouse project.