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Pickleball granted a dedicated court at White Rock’s Centennial Park

Council decision stipulates a six-month trial period for popular sport
White Rock pickleball player Debbie Lawrance - who appeared before council June 14 to ask for a dedicated pickleball court in Centennial Park - is seen on the court in Nottingham, England, where she competed at the English Open in 2019. (Contributed photo)

Pickleball enthusiasts now have a dedicated court at Centennial Park for their rapidly growing sport – but with the stipulation of a six-month trial period.

In its regular meeting on June 28 White Rock council voted unanimously to give White Rock Pickleball (WRPB) exclusive rights to the northwest court – currently shared by tennis and pickleball users.

The original motion, from Coun. David Chesney, was to approve recommendations in a report from recreation and culture director Eric Stepura and engineering and municipal operations director Jim Gordon.

Their report had been requested in response to a June 14 delegation before council by White Rock pickleball player Debbie Lawrance, representing some 300 participants in the informally-organized group who were asking for a dedicated court.

In April, council had reconsidered – and ultimately rejected – a proposal to construct pickleball courts in Maccaud Park following feedback from residents who said the area should remain a passive greenspace as originally intended.

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“I’ve seen this sport grow exponentially in our community,” Chesney said.

“All one needs to do is go by Centennial Park, any time after nine or 10 in the morning, and you see dozens of people out there, fully enjoying the facility.”

He added it was not his intention to pit tennis players against pickleball players.

“I play both,” he noted. “But I think we need to address this matter as quickly as possible.”

The suggestion for a six month trial period – added as a friendly amendment to Chesney’s motion – came from Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, who said he had heard conflicting accounts of usage, and need for court time, from both the pickleball and tennis camps.

“Give it to the pickleball people for six months and see how it works out,” he suggested. “If they need it all day long, then it becomes theirs; if it’s under-used then it stays as it is.”

The trial period was endorsed by a majority of council in a separate vote, with Coun. Erika Johanson and Coun. Scott Kristjanson voting against it.

The endorsed recommendations also include authorizing WRPB to hire a contractor – at their cost – to repaint lines on the court for pickleball use.

Pickleball priority use hours will also be expanded on the northeast tennis/pickleball court from the present 9 a.m. to noon to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with other times on the shared court to be determined on a first come, first served basis.

Also approved was installation of court signage to clarify changes for the general public and consideration of allocating $50,000 in the city’s 2022-2026 financial plan for the construction of permanent pickleball courts, including new surfacing and line marking at the northwest court.

Two other related staff recommendations – that council consider allocating $300,000 in the 2022-2026 financial plan for the installation of lighting for both tennis and pickleball courts at Centennial Park, and consider a further $1,500 annually in operating costs for the lighting – were not endorsed by council, however.

Chesney had moved that consideration of the lighting be deferred until after the six month period, but the motion was defeated, in a separate vote, with only Chesney and Mayor Darryl Walker supporting it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that council would consider allocating $500,000 for construction of permanent pickleball courts.

About the Author: Alex Browne

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