The Comox Valley Pickleball Association is unhappy with the arrangement for scheduling use of the new pickleball courts at Highland Park in Comox. Since the Comox Valley School District (SD71) owns the land, it has the right to priority booking.
When the CVPA and the Courtenay Rotary Club started discussing the project over a year ago, association president Rick Folk understood the courts were to be built for pickleball players in the Comox Valley.
Courtenay Rotary contributed $90,000 to construction of the courts, and the CVPA $20,800.
“At no time was it ever mentioned that the school district would control the scheduling for play on the courts,” Folk said. “If Rotary and CVPA had known about this demand, another site for the project would have been sought.”
Comox Mayor Paul Ives said the CVPA’s concerns are overblown, considering school bookings should only take up five to 10 hours a week of court time. The rest of the week remains open to public use.
“There should be no surprises here given that these new courts are built on SD71 property,” Ives said.
SD71 Supt. Dean Linquist said the community doesn’t typically use school facilities if they’re not being used by students.
“We’ve worked with the Town of Comox in developing an agreement that is good for the school system, really important for the students, but also good for the community,” Lindquist said. “We believe the model is working.”
Folk — who estimates 95 per cent of play will be by CVPA members and the public — questions why the majority have no say in court scheduling. If a group is playing pickleball at a non-scheduled school time, he said a class might show up and players would have to leave.
“This makes it extremely difficult to have any type of organized play for the pickleball players in our community,” Folk said. “As the CVPA has over 247 paid members, we should be allowed to follow a schedule that we have some input into.”
Others who contributed to the courts include the Comox Valley Regional District ($20,000), Edgett Excavating ($5,000), Tayco Paving ($3,800) and the Town of Comox ($55,000). A further $30,000 needs to be spent on court painting and landscaping.
Pickleball is also played indoor at the Comox Rec Centre and outdoor at the Highland hockey box next to the new courts. The Native Sons Hall in Courtenay can fit two courts. The game can also be played at the Cumberland Rec Centre, and the hockey/lacrosse box at Martin Park in Courtenay.
Two courts can also be used at Lewis Park, shared between pickleball and tennis practice. Folk notes that all of these options require temporary nets to be set up each time.
Ives notes the Comox Rec Centre will be publishing a weekly schedule, accessible online and through smartphones.