As UNBC's Canada Research chair in Northern B.C. for rural and small town studies, geography professor Greg Halseth says the struggles of service clubs to survive and keep up their activities in communities are part of a North American-wide phenomenon.
"Part of it has to do with changing demographics, it's an older population than it was years ago, and part of it has to do with the slackening off of the baby boom so there are fewer young people coming up," said Halseth.
"People's lives have just gotten busier and there are a lot more ways to interact than there were in the past. Service clubs, as well as providing valued services and activities in the community, were a way to interact. Now, we can connect with people in our social circle around the world, face-to-face on an instantaneous basis."
That doesn't mean the parks and arenas they build and the medical services they fund aren't needed. In fact, with government funding sources diminishing as the population ages, the need for service clubs to provide goods and services that make communities better places is greater than ever.
But how will they continue do that if their armies of volunteers are reduced to skeleton crews?
"Service clubs continue to play an exceptionally important role because senior levels of government have not been able to continue providing the source of services people are calling for," said Halseth.
"Voluntary and service groups are being called on as much if not more than ever to help out. They are a bit challenged with membership, and that's not a local problem. Imagine what our quality of life would be if we didn't have these things? How many families use the Rotary soccer fields, it must be thousands. It's just amazing what service clubs in this community have contributed."