Pickleball’s popularity is rising and Central Saanich promises to consider the needs of the sport during park master planning in 2022. But it won’t add an additional court before that process. (Black Press Media File)

Pickleball’s popularity is rising and Central Saanich promises to consider the needs of the sport during park master planning in 2022. But it won’t add an additional court before that process. (Black Press Media File)

Central Saanich puts pickleball off to parks master plan discussion

Municipality won’t add additional court before parks master planning

Central Saanich will not create additional playing space for pickleball in Centennial Park, but promises to “consider the needs” of the sport during parks master planning in 2022.

“I look forward to how this is going to get incorporated into the parks master plan,” said Coun. Gordon Newton, echoing comments from Coun. Niall Paltiel. “There is clearly a real demand from members of the community and beyond for a thing like this in Central Saanich and I’m hoping to see something sooner rather than later.”

Council voted unanimously to retain the status quo of allowing one pickleball court on court #1 in the park. Saanich Pickleball Association had suggested in January that the municipality reline the court for two pickle ball courts. Court #1 is also lined for tennis and tennis players would have retained access under the association’s proposal. But it has also suggested that if tennis-only court #2 or #3 are available, that tennis bookings be made for those courts, since court #1 would be the only pickleball court, said Britt Burnham, manager of community services.

Council’s decision draws from a staff report, which says that “this may not be the most opportune time to revisit the design” because of current and potential future restrictions on adult sports coupled with the upcoming park master planning.

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The report notes establishing outdoor courts suitable for pickleball on the Peninsula is a “challenging task” requiring the right location and funding. “Staff believe the upcoming (parks master plan) is the best time to identify community recreation priorities.”

This latest request from the association is the second of its kind within a year. In January 2020, it asked the municipality to reline the same court for four exclusive pickleball courts, but staff noted that “sharing a court is not best practice” despite being “an affordable way to accommodate” the sport with council voting to send the issue to parks master planning.

Council also passed language encouraging Panorama Recreation Centre to consider coordinating development of pickleball facilities and that the association be invited “to look at potential locations for facilities” as well as for fundraising and grant opportunities.

Corinne Reid, president of the association, said it respects Central Saanich’s decision. “Pickleball is attracting new players of all ages and abilities every day, and this is putting huge demands on the few existing pickleball courts available,” she said. “There is a desperate need for more pickleball venues indoor and outdoor, and we look forward to working with council and staff in the future to get courts built in the community.”

Pickleball has been experiencing a boom in recent years. But this growth has also led to conflicts with neighbours concerned about noise and tennis players. This said, voices on both sides of the pickleball-tennis divide have downplayed these conflicts in emphasizing the benefits of dedicated (rather than shared) facilities for both sports.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula