Pickleball courts move ahead

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has agreed in principle to provide a $300,000 grant for construction and leased land

Pickleball enthusiasts are all smiles after learning a permanent home is moving closer.

On Thursday, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee agreed in principle to provide a $300,000 grant for construction and leased land at Marshall Field for 12 pickleball courts.

“I’m really excited,” said Don Friesen, with the Vernon Pickleball Association.

The association will have to come up with about $300,000 for the project and be completely responsible for construction.

It’s possible the facility could be taking shape by the BC 55+ Games in September although it may not be completed.

“I could start tomorrow. I have contractors ready to go,” said Friesen, adding that sponsors are willing to provide cash and supplies for the project.

The plan doesn’t include a roof, which would cost an additional $1 million.

“We will work towards getting that,” said Friesen.

Pickleball players have been lobbying for a permanent home because they are having to use tennis courts and the demand for the sport is growing.

“We have so many people at our door, we don’t know what to do. The pressure is becoming pretty severe,” said Friesen.

Another issue is some residents near the tennis courts have complained about noise from pickleball.

GVAC staff will enter into negotiations with the association to reduce the liability GVAC faces.

“If something happened and the project stalled and ran out of money, who wears it?” said director Bob Fleming.

GVAC’s decision to provide the land and $300,000 must still be ratified by the Regional District of North Okanagan board.