Infrastructure
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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

New indoor pickleball ‘hub’ to open in March

Westshore facility arrives as local councils try to serve both the sport's growing popularity and neighbours' concerns about space and noise

Mark Brennae
January 23, 2024
Infrastructure
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

New indoor pickleball ‘hub’ to open in March

Westshore facility arrives as local councils try to serve both the sport's growing popularity and neighbours' concerns about space and noise

Mark Brennae
Jan 23, 2024
The current indoor courts in Crystal Garden. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily
The current indoor courts in Crystal Garden. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily
Infrastructure
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

New indoor pickleball ‘hub’ to open in March

Westshore facility arrives as local councils try to serve both the sport's growing popularity and neighbours' concerns about space and noise

Mark Brennae
January 23, 2024
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New indoor pickleball ‘hub’ to open in March
The current indoor courts in Crystal Garden. Photo: Mark Brennae / Capital Daily

Pickleballers will have a permanent, indoor place to play on the Westshore beginning in March.

A group that includes two area sports equipment businesses, has secured an industrial space—with 27-foot ceilings—to build six private indoor courts in Langford under the name the Victoria Pickleball Centre (VPC).

“VPC is unbelievably excited to offer a private pickleball centre to Victoria,” Brittany Buna, one of the partners and the group’s spokesperson, tells Capital Daily.

The group has signed a five-year lease with option, on warehouse space at 2950 Westshore Parkway. A recent real estate ad (now deleted) suggests the space was priced at $20/square foot, while parts of the complex can be seen in this 2023 real estate video.

Plans for the VPC include a pro shop with rental equipment, and food and beverage service. Buna said the VPC will offer group and private lessons, and host tournaments and events.

“We want this to be the hub of all things pickleball,” Buna said.

Asked whether Victorians would drive to the Westshore to play indoors, Buna said, “Absolutely. They’ve been asking for it for what seems like forever.”

With a shortage of indoor facilities, the City of Victoria recently cordoned off one floor of the Crystal Garden in downtown Victoria to temporarily house a pair of pickleball courts (they opened Jan.9) for five weeks.

The addition of outdoor courts at Beacon Hill Park has proven popular and six more are on their way with the revitalization of Topaz Park

Along with Buna, a lawyer and longtime pickleball proponent, the ownership pairing of racquet specialty store Courtside Sports and sport court construction company Victoria PlayCo seems a natural fit. Courtside Sports has been supplying equipment to racquet sports players in the community since 1990 and Victoria PlayCo has been around since ‘79, priding itself on being the only Island enterprise specializing in building tennis and pickleball courts—and knows a thing or two about how to cover the building’s concrete floor with a synthetic playing surface.

The trio says it hopes to attract 200+ members and plans to keep room for non-members to play for a drop-in fee.

“There will be a variety of membership options in hopes to fit all needs,” Buna tells Capital Daily, adding she anticipates the facility to be open seven days a week with playing times between 6am and 10pm, depending on staffing and interest. 

A Pacific NorthWest sport that keeps growing locally

Pickleball is believed to have been invented near Seattle in the 1960s and was introduced to Canadians in the ‘70s when snowbirds visiting the US caught the bug and brought it home. The first known Canadian courts were built in Vancouver in the mid-1980s, and 40 years later, according to the results of a survey conducted last year, some 1.4 million Canadians now play the game.

Those numbers are reflected in the CRD as Greater Victoria’s pickleball sector continues to grow. The Victoria Regional Pickleball Association (VRPA) reports its membership tripled since the fall of 2021 with 820 players registered this past summer. As of Dec. 31, 650 had renewed Connie McCann, the VRPA president tells Capital Daily. 

“I'm expecting at least [a further] 120 will pay the dues in the next couple of months.”

One-third of those players are Victoria residents, one-third live in Saanich and the rest call Oak Bay, Esquimalt, and North Saanich home, she said.

A further breakdown reveals that 62% of current members are women and the average age is 61, McCann said. And they need courts to play.

McCann said that she welcomes the new Westshore courts, saying they will help with the growing demand for courts as well as provide a place to play when the weather is challenging. 

“[It’s the] first private facility—that is significant,” she told Capital Daily. “With honesty, I support a community model. But the reality is we need all the models."

The VPC’s courts aren’t the only ones on the way. Earlier this month, Saanich council agreed to build six outdoor pickleball courts—and one for tennis—in Fowler Park near Cordova Bay.

Saanich is going to take space that’s been used as an off-leash dog area, a move that likely will upset some dog owners, although Eulala Mills of the CRD Dog Owners and Friends for Good Governance (DOGG) Society told the Saanich News the group supports the decision. 

What about the noise, noise, noise?

As for the ongoing issue of the ping-pongy noise that reverberates from outdoor courts, picklers, as they are sometimes known, seem to be supportive of finding a resolution. The VRPA has pledged $4K toward the cost of sound attenuation panels. 

“We want to be part of the solution,” McCann told the Saanich News

Picklers are plentiful here in Victoria, where the sounds—to the regret of some—of plastic balls being bashed about outdoors has caused some friction.

Last Tuesday night, North Saanich’s council heard from residents who were loud and clear (with a petition signed by 400) that pickleball noise was too much for them to agree to have outdoor courts installed at Cy Hampson Park.

Instead, existing courts at nearby Wain Park will continue to be maintained, but there’s a catch for players: They’ll have to use soft balls, which make less noise, something picklers have protested.

McCann tells Capital Daily that’s not going to happen. “We're a regulated sport, and we have a regulated ball, and it changes the nature of the game, and no player will change the nature of the game.”

Could use more courts, for sure

Ultimately, she and the VRPA believe more indoor facilities are needed. She says they’re “working towards is a 12-court facility within the core region to serve the needs of the majority of our membership,” with Vernon’s covered pickleball complex as a model.

The VPC has a website up and running and is looking for volunteers to help in various areas, including reception, food and beverage serving, pickleball play monitoring, events, and communications positions. It’s also looking for corporate sponsors

To stay updated with the Victoria Pickleball Centre’s progress, visit www.victoriapickleballcentre.com

Here’s a listing of places to play pickleball in the CRD

contact@capitaldaily.ca

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New indoor pickleball ‘hub’ to open in March
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