Pickleball gets a boost in North Saanich

District will spend $120,000 on four new pickleball courts in Wain Park.

Most pickleball has been limited to indoor venues

North Saanich is going to build four pickleball courts in Wain Park.

And while the general location and cost — $120,000 —have been agreed upon, the exact location in the park is yet to be determined.

District council spent more than an hour deliberating over the minutiae of the decision to build the courts — which was applauded during their Monday night committee of the whole meeting. Yet, Monday night’s debate length was a drop in the bucket, compared with the years it has taken to get to this point.

The District’s original direction to staff to research and identify appropriate spaces for pickleball courts, was made in 2015. But as Councillor Celia Stock pointed out, the issue has been going on for a lot longer.

“We’ve been discussing this for three-and-a-half years,” she said.

In that time, Stock said they met with various park user groups and felt that North Saanich needed to build pickleball courts to reduce controversy over the issue.

Stock said she felt the District needs to build the courts, instead of asking the Peninsula Recreation Commission to do it, in order to control where they are located.

Controversy was mostly related to conflicts between the tennis and pickleball user groups over issues such as scheduling and noise.

Allan Osborn, president of the Peninsula Tennis Association said Monday the growth in pickleball will see more courts added in the Peninsula — and sounded generally supportive of that. As for the Wain Park site, the new courts were originally proposed to be built near the existing tennis courts. He said there needed to be a sound buffer — or move the courts to a different part of the park.

Brenda Hardy of the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Club said the $120,000 “was generous” adding the group is willing to fundraise or help make the courts happen. She added they respect the tennis players’ concern over noise but noted they have a lot more options of where to play than pickleballers do.

“The sport is growing,” Hardy said. We have 114 paid memberships now and 300 on an email list. There’s an average of 14 new people coming for lessons each week. It’s just mushroomed.”

Council, after debating various options, agreed Wain Park was the best overall site, with the exact spot to be decided later and reported to council by staff.

Councillors, overall, did seem to favour the north east corner of the park.

In allocating the cash, council agreed to pre-approving the $120,000 and not waiting until their budget process, which could conclude in April or May. The money will likely be taken from one of the District’s amenity reserve funds.

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