In the midst of a search for facilities, Peninsula pickleballers could find a new home at Blue Heron Park in North Saanich.
“Our latest hope is for a partnership with the soccer association (Peninsula Soccer) to provide a hub of courts,” said Rod Ellis, president of the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association, in a statement to Black Press Media.
The association is hosting an open house on Saturday, June 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Brentwood Bay Community Hall to help satisfy growing interest in the sport. But the sport’s rising popularity has also come with growing pains around the issue of court locations – Ellis’ comments include a note of frustration.
“Many hours of meetings, letters, negotiations by numerous committee members over the years, have not been very productive, and in fact it is really disappointing to see how slow and how little progress has been made,” he said of the search for space.
Sidney Coun. Scott Garnett brought up the potential for Blue Heron Park to be used for the purpose during a recent council meeting, when the public also learned the Victoria Airport Authority nixed plans for using Rotary Park for courts.
While Ellis expressed gratitude to North Saanich council for the excellent outdoor courts on Birch Road, and for reaching a compromise on court times between players and residents, he said Saanich Peninsula and Greater Victoria in general are lagging behind the rest of B.C. and beyond when it comes to building courts to satisfy demand.
“While we are grateful that city councils are starting to take this recreational sport seriously, what we need is dedicated, not shared multi-use facilities, sooner rather than later,” he said.
“Our hope is for a high quality pickleball facility including both indoor and outdoor courts that can be used for tournaments and regular play, all hours, seven days a week. Once we have a location we are more than willing to fundraise and apply for grants. It would have been wonderful to have such a facility to welcome the many players registered for the 55+ BC Games who will be invading Victoria in the (fall).”
As well as the four Birch Road courts, one or two outdoor courts are available in Sidney’s Iroquois Park, said Ellis in listing available facilities.
“Central Saanich primarily has three indoor courts at the overbooked Brentwood Hall, and one shared court with tennis at Centennial Park,” he added. “The pilot project on the lacrosse box (in Centennial Park) last summer was a great success, and we are now grateful that consideration is being given for court space in the proposed multi-use facility on this site, thanks to a large grant.”
The shared court at the new Jumpstart facility at Panorama Recreation Centre is not an appropriate court, he said, but two courts made available by Panorama at the Greenglade Community Centre are well used.
The association has discussed using courts on school properties, but the cost and limited time availability ruled out that option, he said. That said, the club has been running evening lessons for new players at North Saanich Middle School.
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