At the latest, play will begin at a new pickleball facility in Red Deer in 2019.
That is as long as The City of Red Deer can come up with an appropriate permanent location to put the 20-court project approved during this week’s Capital Budget debate.
Councillor Ken Johnston was the main council proponent behind approving the cost, agreeing with a request from the local club to move the item back into the Capital Budget from the long-term Capital Plan.
The facility will cost $1 million, with $100,000 being contributed by the Red Deer Pickleball Club.
“It did come down to a balance of the peace and enjoyment of a neighbourhood versus an exploding sport, a sport that’s becoming more and more popular,” Johnston said in reference to noise complaints from Pines residents living near the current pickleball area along Pamely Avenue. “There was obviously discordance between the two groups, and complicating that were opportunities for tournaments, for economic development and for tourism.”
Johnston believes the perfect scenario would see consultations happen over the first third of 2018 and council could sanction a location sooner than later, possibly allowing for some play within the year.
The public consultations will happen soon to select a new site, though The City, nor the president of the club would comment on where that may be.
Val Vollmin with the Red Deer Pickleball Club says they are thrilled and relieved about council’s decision, which will allow them to leave their current nine-court play area near Gateway Christian School.
"Certainly if we do a provincial, regional or national tournament, it will bring in way more than the 206 we had this summer. Obviously we couldn’t do that on nine courts, so it’s going to have a very positive impact on the local economy I’m sure,” she says, noting the recent tournament had competitors ranging from 11 to 78-years-old.
A national competition in Kelowna last summer drew 430 participants.
“It keeps people active, it’s a sport for all ages and it is probably one of the fastest growing sports in North America,” Vollmin says. “It is money well-spent because those courts will be used.”
The Red Deer Pickleball Club, which has 170 members, was formed as a non-profit in 2013.
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