The Lighthouse Country in Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) wants pickleball courts built in their area to accommodate the rapid rise in local players.
The club Pickle Lites have been renting the hall at the Lighthouse Community Centre (LCC) for over five years now from Oct. 1 to April 30.
President Jennifer Fleming said the current arrangement with the centre has been great throughout the winter months but they expect things to be different come spring, as more pickleballers will be coming out to play and will be scrambling for courts and playing time.
The club wants outdoor pickleball courts to be built near or adjacent the Lighthouse Community Centre. They relayed this message at the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Public Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC) for Area H meeting on March 1. They asked the committee to support their request as they feel these would provide local pickleballers of all ages a venue to form healthy community connections.
The director of the Lighthouse Community Centre, Ellie Scott gave her support to the club and appeared as a delegation to the POSAC, where she provided the committee statistics to assist them when considering the request.
With summer approaching, Scott said everyone would prefer to play outside. The congestion is expected to happen at the Dunsmuir Community Park located near Qualicum Bay, where there are three pickleball courts. Scott said the courts are not sufficient to meet demand.
“It’s overbooked,” said Scott. “The Dunsmuir courts during the summer time is really busy. And people come out with their kids want to play basketball and there are pickleballers. There is a potential for some conflict there. And it’s also discouraging. I stopped playing last summer because you wait half-an-hour to play a game that last 10-minutes then you wait half-an hour for the next game that last 10 minutes. So it’s just too much for me.”
The club, Scott said, has over 60 active members, not including the snowbirds, that play at the hall five days a week. Last October, she said, they invited beginners and they attracted 25 new players. And she added that although they don’t want to turn anyone away, they’re at a point where they cannot accommodate any new interest.
“We might have to go play seven-days a week to accommodate more players,” said Scott. “The need is there. Everybody wants to play outside during the summertime.
“The courts at Dunsmuir are very oversubscribed, with groups from Qualicum and Parksville travelling up, as well as all the folks between Qualicum Beach and Deep Bay,” said Scott. “It’s such an active healthy hobby. It would be a shame if people lost interest because you wait half-an-hour to play a game that lasts 10-minutes.”
Scott pointed out there is lots of space at the Lighthouse Centre where pickleball courts can be built, with ample parking spaces available. They’re also a distance away from neighbours, who might find the noise intrusive and disturbing.
The centre has been logging the attendance of players during their sessions as well as clinics that they host regularly and Scott has made them available to the committee for perusal. She added there is a private pickleball group from Parksville that rents the hall three days a week. They too want to play outside in Dunsmuir.