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City sets up first indoor pickleball courts in Crystal Garden

With no indoor courts in Victoria, players have had to travel to other municipalities to feed their pickleballing hunger

Mark Brennae
December 11, 2023
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

City sets up first indoor pickleball courts in Crystal Garden

With no indoor courts in Victoria, players have had to travel to other municipalities to feed their pickleballing hunger

Mark Brennae
Dec 11, 2023
New temporary pickleball courts in Crystal Garden will open for five weeks in the new year. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily
New temporary pickleball courts in Crystal Garden will open for five weeks in the new year. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

City sets up first indoor pickleball courts in Crystal Garden

With no indoor courts in Victoria, players have had to travel to other municipalities to feed their pickleballing hunger

Mark Brennae
December 11, 2023
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City sets up first indoor pickleball courts in Crystal Garden
New temporary pickleball courts in Crystal Garden will open for five weeks in the new year. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily

The area’s pickleball community finally will have a dry place in Victoria to play this winter.

Crystal Garden, which once housed a popular city pool—that migrated to Quadra in 1971—has been fitted with two non-permanent, regulation-sized pickleball courts that are slated to be open for play in the new year.

“The pickleball community has grown so much,” said Jeff Brehaut, manager of recreation services for the City of Victoria.

There are 840 players currently registered with the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association (VRPA), and many of them are clamouring for a place to play indoors, something that until now has not been available in the Garden City.

“They're looking for, you know, space and looking for indoor space during the cold winter months, and we're able to meet most of those needs right here,” Brehaut said.

The city has purchased four transportable synthetic blue and white floors with accompanying rollaway nets from Total Sports Solutions in Oakville, Ont., for $60K, which included transportation, Brehaut said. 

Only two can fit inside the Crystal Garden space, so the city is looking for another location for the other two. 

Brehaut said the city partnered with the VRPA, which will provide coaches to conduct lessons when the pop-up courts are open to the public Jan. 9 through Feb. 18. 

The courts, which represent the first viable indoor option for pickleballers within Victoria city limits, will be available on both a reserve and drop-in basis, at no charge for users. Brehaut said information is now available on the city’s website (as of Dec. 12) and registration will begin Dec. 14.

“The board is delighted that the city is proactively looking at creative ways to provide more pickleball courts,” Damaris Brix who sits on the VRPA board, told Capital Daily.

“We worked with the city to develop the programming, and we would like to thank our members who stepped up to instruct and facilitate the programs offered.”

City agrees with players, more courts are needed

The city points to the success of courts it erected in the summer in Beacon Hill Park as an indication the sport’s popularity has earned a commitment to make more courts available.

“This is this is just step one,” Brehaut said. There is no step two just yet as far as indoor courts are concerned, but Brehaut said a footprint has been earmarked for outdoor pickleball at Topaz Park where two new turf fields have been installed.

“And it's likely going to be 11 courts,” Brehaut said. “The design’s just being finalized by our city team right now.”

Contracts for the build have not yet gone out to tender but Brehaut said the city expects the courts to be pickle-ready within 16 to 18 months. 

With no indoor facilities within city limits, players have had to rely on makeshift facilities in other municipalities to feed their pickleballing hunger. What they want is a dedicated facility similar to one built two years ago in Vernon, which hosted a provincial championship.

The sport was invented in 1965 in Washington state, not far south from Mayne Island, where last year, pickleballers were banned from that island’s only set of tennis courts.

Last spring, the City of Victoria proscribed pickleballers from Todd Park in James Bay after neighbours complained about the inherent racket made when one whacks a plastic ball.

That led the city to team with Oak Bay, Saanich, and Esquimalt on the Greater Victoria Pickleball Strategy to “address the needs of pickleball court users while sensitively integrating existing and proposed courts into communities.”

The resulting strategy is still in the development stage. 

Permanent indoor courts may be on their way

Meantime, it’s looking quite probable area pickleballers will have a permanent, indoor place to play in the coming months.

A group of three has partnered to acquire industrial space in the Westshore that can be converted into a multi-racquet sport facility.

“We're really excited about it,” Brittany Buna, a spokesperson for the trio tells Capital Daily. 

The facility could help meet the demand of the growing pickleball interest and is expected also to cater to those who play padel, another growing racquet sport.

Invented in Mexico, padel is seen as a mix between squash and tennis but has similar lines and court size as pickleball.

“We are so close, we have a few more details to iron out,” Buna tells Capital Daily. “Once we do that, we can go wild and tell everyone about it.”

Buna said the building is new and shouldn’t require extensive renovations to house a pro shop and food and beverage capabilities. She said a Victoria company has been secured to lay the floor, and the group hopes to sign a lease that would begin as early as Feb 1.

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