After more than two years of advocating for a permanent outdoor facility, it seems the Comox Valley Pickleball Association’s efforts are finally paying off.
Six outdoor pickleball courts are slated to be constructed this spring at the playing fields behind Highland Secondary School, pending final approval by the School District 71 board of trustees.
The $170,000 capital project is in partnership between the Rotary Club of Courtenay, the CVPA, and other agencies.
“Hundreds of people in the Comox Valley play pickleball and there are just not enough facilities for right now,” said CVPA vice-president Rod Hamilton. “When May comes around, pickleball historically moves from indoor to outdoor, and we’ve had nowhere to play.”
The Town of Comox has set up a project account to receive financial contributions and to issue tax receipts for the project.
Construction of the courts is being funded through a variety of sources: the Town of Comox is contributing $50,000, the Rotary Club of Courtenay is contributing $70,000, the CVPA is contributing $20,000, corporate donations will make up $10,000, and the Comox Valley Regional District will contribute $20,000.
The lack of designated playing facilities for pickleball — which the CVPA states is one of the fastest growing sports in North America — has been a source of conflict in the Comox Valley in the past.
Members of the Comox Valley Tennis Club and the CVPA feuded over pickleball being played on the Lewis Park tennis courts last summer.
Because of a lack of a designated facility, pickleball players wanted permanent pickleball lines to be painted on the courts, which the tennis club claimed would make them unusable for sanctioned tennis tournaments.
As a compromise, the City of Courtenay launched a pilot project that allowed pickleball players to mark their court lines using painter’s tape. But conflicts continued to occur.
The issue eventually led to a heated, standing-room-only Courtenay council meeting in July, where both clubs presented delegations on the issue.
The City of Courtenay eventually discontinued its pilot project in early August, citing a series of complaints and altercations over the taped lines between players of the two sports.
Dave Snider, the city’s recreation director, told council that the pilot project had yielded the highest number of complaints he’d seen in his career as a civil servant.
According to an email from SD71, school district administration is working with the Town of Comox and the CVPA, and will be bringing forward information to the school board at a future meeting for review and deliberation.
The CVPA formed four years ago.