One of North America’s fastest-growing sports has made its mark in Penticton.
Pickleball’s popularity is exploding locally and there’s an immediate need for new courts to be built, the leading group overseeing the sport in the city told Penticton council on Tuesday, July 18.
Dave Burgoyne, president of the Penticton Pickleball Club, says the city needs 12 courts to meet the growing demand for the sport.
Although two new courts are currently being developed at Robinson Park, the city has just six pickleball courts mainly beside the Seniors Centre, as of July 2023.
“We need more courts in Penticton, now,” Burgoyne told council.
The club says it was forced to cap its membership number at 370 players in April, due to the lack of available courts in the city. That number is a 20 per cent increase in membership from the year before.
They added that Penticton is lagging behind other Okanagan communities when it comes to meeting the demand for pickleball.
Oliver, for instance, has four pickleball courts. Based on the town’s population, that’s good enough for one court per 1,273 people.
Kelowna has recently outlined plans to build nine new pickleball courts.
And in Naramata, a community of 1,600 people, there are two pickleball courts.
With six in Penticton, that’s only good enough for one court per 6,148 people.
“The need is 12 courts now in Penticton is clear,” Burgoyne said. “Right now, we are four years behind meeting demand.”
The Penticton Pickleball Club says it is willing to contribute a minimum of $65,000 to help make its vision a reality.
“With additional fundraising and donations from members, reaching $100,000 is not out of the possibility,” Burgoyne added. “Our first and foremost objective is to have one hub for pickleball…right now, there is enough demand (for that).”
A national survey shared by the Penticton Pickleball Club says 1,000,000 people have reported playing pickleball in Canada in 2023, up from the 75,000 who played in 2019.
When asked by Coun. James Miller whether pickleball is more than just a fad, Burgoyne responded with a resounding ‘yes.’
“Pickleball is different,” he said. “Anybody, whether they’ve played a racquet sport in the past or not, can pick up the game very quickly and have fun doing it with friends.”
There are more than 40 people on a waiting list to join the Penticton Pickleball Club.
Burgoyne says that if there was no membership cap in April, its base would breeze by the 400-player mark.