"It's a great day to be a baby boomer," quipped Red Deer City Councillor Ken Johnston who was referring to council's long-awaited approval of a site for a new pickleball facility.
The 20-court, fence-enclosed site will be constructed at St. Joseph High School in northeast Red Deer.
"We're absolutely thrilled because we've been at this since 2013, and 2015 for the new courts, so we're thrilled," said Val Vollmin, President of the Red Deer Pickleball Club.
Asked what she'd say to people who either aren't familiar with the sport or don't understand why The City would spend so much on a facility like this, she added, "It is the fastest growing sport in North America and it's for young people, it's for old people and there are so many people who are going to get enjoyment out of these pickleball courts. Health-wise, it keeps us old people active."
The price-tag of approximately $1.434 million. was partially approved during Operating Budget 2018 when council voted to spend $1 million on the project. At that time, the Red Deer Pickleball Club also committed $99,000.
Along with the approval of a site on Monday, council had to give its blessing to an additional $335,000 cost.
The club currently has about 200 members and they hope to attract more through teaching it not just at St. Joseph, but at other city schools.
In addition to the actual courts, there will be a new washroom constructed, as well as a 60-stall paved and curbed parking lot, separate from the school parking lot and designated for pickleball use.
“There will be courts reserved for public use and for school use," said Johnston. "In the short-term and medium-term, I don’t see 20 courts in full-use until we look at tournaments and provincial events, but yes, I’m very resolved and the public should be too that there will be public use of these courts.”
The club was forced out of its previous home in the Pines after noise complaints from area residents -- noise from smacking the ball, not because they were being unruly.
The City looked at sites like the G.H. Dawe, the Collicutt, a site on Riverside Drive and at Lindsay Thurber High School before landing on St. Joseph.
Construction should start this spring and the facility will likely open up in June 2019.
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