Local pickleball fans will have a new outdoor facility location in the City.
City council approved the development of the facility at St. Joseph High School during this week’s meeting.
The court will be built at Motorworks Fields at the School.
“Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America, and this facility will ensure we can meet the increased demand for the sport in our community,” said Shelley Gagnon, recreation, parks and culture manager for the City of Red Deer.
At the 2018 capital budget debate last year, council approved a new facility, including a preliminary budget of $1,015,000, subject to site selection.
Now that a site has been selected, an additional $335,000 was approved to complete the project.
“This new facility would meet not only growing needs of the (Red Deer Pickleball) Club, but it would also be available for public use,” she said.
”Administration identified numerous sites for consideration which were reviewed on site selection criteria that included social advancement and community benefit, economic opportunity, amenity utilization, strategic alignment, development timing, environmental and ecological impact, appropriate land use, proximity to residential areas and more,” she said
Gagnon said the additional budget will cover the development costs for the 20 courts, a washroom facility and a parking lot.
“While it wasn’t one of our original site locations, we began focusing on St. Joseph based in part on the feedback we heard from the community and stakeholders about the other locations. This site provides synergy with the existing and future schools and adjacent commercial areas, and also adds a community amenity to a growing area of the City.
“This site also offers overflow parking, easy access by vehicles to public transportation and great trail connectivity,” she said. “Currently, there are no residential dwellings in the area.”
She said there would also be partnership opportunities with the nearby schools.
“I know that the Pickleball Club is quite excited about that opportunity of partnering with the school to teach or coach pickleball and even introduce that new demographic to the sport.”
The facility will be able to host tournaments including the potential for a national championship, she said.
Construction is set to start this summer, and will be wrapped up by next spring.
The Red Deer Pickleball Club will continue to be based at the Pines Activity Centre until the new courts are complete.
According to council notes, pickleball is attracting all ages and abilities of players, with the Red Deer Club’s membership nearing 200 individuals.
The number of existing outdoor courts in Red Deer does not meet the growing needs of the club nor are they ideally situated.
Other potential sites for the facility included the Collicutt Centre, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, Riverside Drive and the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.
Meanwhile, current outdoor pickleball courts are available for use in the West Park and Pines communities.
Indoor pickleball is played in various locations including school gymnasiums, the G.H. Dawe Centre and Collicutt Centre.
“Let’s not forget the benefits of the sports tourism initiative and the economic development boost that the courts are going to provide,” said Councillor Ken Johnston.
“Top that off with the synergies of the school and the commercial lift that this Club will be given in that particular area, and we have an extraordinary win for the community – and for all demographics in our community.”