Many people gathered at the Red Deer Public Library’s Snell Auditorium to attend an open house about three sites for a new pickleball facility.
The open house, held April 4th, was for the public to provide feedback to City officials on where they would like to see the courts.
“We considered multiple sites, but taking into consideration some of the things that we know — we need to think about noise, parking congestion — we’ve shortlisted it to three sites,” said Shelley Gagnon, manager of the recreation, parks and culture department for the City.
The locations include the east side of the Collicutt Centre, directly north of Lindsay Thurber High School and 67th St. (north of Riverside Dr.).
From what Gagnon is hearing, people are leaning more towards the Collicutt and Lindsay Thurber as the sites of choice.
“They are very similar sites, both with great advantages and both of them come with a few challenges as well that we need to try and mitigate through design,” she said.
Terry Hanasyk, vice president of the Red Deer Pickleball Club, said his preference, too, is the Collicutt.
“The Red Deer Pickleball Club has one annual tournament and we want to vie for the provincial tournament which is in August, along with the national tournament,” said Hanasyk.
He added that the tournaments run for a week, which would benefit surrounding businesses.
“The fire hall is close in case you have injury or heart attacks,” he said.
Hanasyk said that from the others he’s heard from, the majority are also in favour of the Collicutt.
Currently there are 170 members of the Red Deer Pickleball Club, with another approximately 75 to 80 that play outside of the Club.
Other open house attendees included Alida Hermary along with Dick Feser.
Hermary said her preference is the Collicutt, mainly because of its accessibility.
“I think for tournaments there are just more amenities for guests. There are bathrooms, coffee, water and things like that for refreshments and socializing afterwards,” she said.
Feser, too, was in favour of the Collicutt because of its location.
“It has a sports environment around it, so it just makes it very appealing.”
Taking into account the public’s feedback, some ideas will be presented to City council within a month or so.
If council approves a site, the intent is for construction to start on the courts in the spring, so that the pickleball club can move in come next spring.
“We envision it operating very similarly to the tennis courts downtown where there’s a club. We have an operating agreement with them but it is open to the public,” said Gagnon.
She added that the club is also interested in having curriculum programs, so if they happen to be near a school, the school can use the courts, too.
“Pickleball is a sport for all ages.”