Pickleballers are hoping to score a new surface at Hackett Park in Sechelt by swapping out one of the tennis courts.
The proposal was submitted by the Sunshine Coast Pickleball Association to the District of Sechelt on May 6. At a May 19 regular council meeting, councillors moved ahead with a staff recommendation to first gather input from the public on the proposal through a survey.
“Once you take away the one tennis court, you’re never going back to two tennis courts,” said parks manager Jayme Anderson when explaining the rationale for a survey. “There is a real final part about this for the future of Hackett Park.”
A staff report noted the increasing popularity of pickleball on the Sunshine Coast, with players reporting to council “on several occasions” about the scarcity of courts.
Earlier this year, a parks budget survey, which generated 125 responses, found 54 per cent of respondents play pickleball compared with 22 per cent playing tennis, and 46 commenters said more pickleball courts are needed.
The pickleball association proposed replacing the southernmost court at Hackett Park with four pickleball courts with a fence separating the two surfaces.
“Players from both sports are becoming increasingly frustrated with the wait time for a court,” said the association’s May 6 letter, since the groups vie for both courts.
It also noted that anecdotally, demand for pickleball courts at Hackett Park is greater than for tennis, and tennis players would have easier access to the courts with dedicated pickleball courts in place, “since both courts are commonly taken by pickleball players.”
Included in the 2021 budget is $24,000 to resurface the Hackett Park tennis courts. But if the idea went forward, it would cost additional money to install fencing, nets, line paint and poles. The association said it could look into fundraising.
Anderson said the total funding could be “easily double” the earmarked amount.
Councillors supported moving forward with a public survey, which staff said could be posted within a week and left up to six weeks.
During discussion councillors also asked about future projects at Hackett Park and whether it made sense to get public feedback on those projects as well.
Work is underway to install an amphitheatre and stage and an RFP is being issued to build a new playground. An adult fitness area was included in an application for a grant.
Anderson acknowledged, “We’re moving ahead very fast without a huge overall master plan for the park.”