A plan for six outdoor pickleball courts in Moose Jaw will be going into the 2022 budget deliberations.
This comes after Pickleball Moose Jaw and the Department of Parks and Recreation have been working together and presented the plan to city council on Monday night. A motion to have a supplement budget request during budget deliberations was passed unanimously.
Pickleball is a sport quickly growing in Moose Jaw. Pickleball Moose Jaw has 50 to 60 members since its incorporation two years ago and they estimate there are about 200 to 300 pickleball players taking part in the growing sport.
“Pickleball Canada estimates over 75,000 players are enjoying the sport here at home and those numbers are as of 2019 that number has been rising steadily even during the pandemic,” said Lori Haukaas of Pickleball Moose Jaw.
Currently, Timothy Eaton Gardens offers playing time six times each week on non-regulation sized courts and it is open to seniors only.
The Cosmo Centre is open to all adults with playing time five times per week on two regulation-sized courts, while the city offers programs alternating between Palliser Heights and Westmount schools five times per week. At the schools, the games are played on badminton courts. While the dimensions are the same, the interior lines are different making them non-regulation courts.
“Not having access to schools in the summer months means that many of our players stop playing at least locally for that time,” Haukaas said.
“Pickleball Moose Jaw members travel all over Saskatchewan and even out of province to play outdoors from April through September. Towns, cities, and resort villages across Saskatchewan have built shared or dedicated outdoor courts.”
While Golden Ticket Sports Centre has Pickleball courts, Pickleball Moose Jaw has been unable to schedule playing time at that facility.
Otherwise, there are no outdoor options for Pickleball players in Moose Jaw during the summer months, while several other towns and cities in the province have built outdoor courts.
Haukaas said the lack of adequate courts has held Pickleball Moose Jaw back from hosting tournaments.
“We absolutely would like to start hosting tournaments right away and actually this month we were asked to consider hosting the Saskatchewan Provincial Tournament next year. We aren't able to do that because we don't have the facility for it, but six courts would allow us to host smaller tournaments for sure,” she said.
The proposed location for the courts would be at the Kinsmen Sportsplex. Pickleball Moose Jaw had been working with Parks and Recreation as the courts would need to be sheltered from the wind since the game uses a Wiffle ball and the sportsplex has amenities such as washrooms and a concession.
Coun. Kim Robinson suggested the idea of possibly building the courts at Crescent Park.
“I think it's something that Pickleball Moose Jaw should still probably push for us as certainly there's some shared facility, I guess, with tennis available for if we ever got to that point for hosting larger tournaments,” Robinson said.
Haukaas replied that no Pickleball players would complain about having courts at Crescent Park, but it lacks the amenities offered at the Kinsmen Sportsplex.