Pickleball could be coming to Homewood Park.
Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the New Horizons for Seniors, the city is hoping to launch a “Pickleball in the Park” program that will provide an outdoor venue for the fastest-growing sport in North America.
Currently, there are more than 75 players that regularly participate in drop-in pickleball on a makeshift court in the multi-purpose room of Rotary Place. It is not uncommon for players to wait up to 20 minutes to participate during busy fall, spring and winter seasons.
However, in the summer, the multi-purpose room is used by the city’s parks, recreation and culture department for its summer camps, leaving pickleball players without a court.
“It seems all involved in the sport are desperate for more space and organization, with the most desired space being outdoors,” said a report presented to council Monday night. “Outdoor pickleball courts will increase physical activity, support the social participation of seniors, and create an outdoor community space for the pickleball club to use and congregate.”
The $25,000 in grant money will be used to expand the existing asphalt multi-sport pad at Homework Park, to install a new lining for the court, purchase pickleball nets and, if funds allow, fencing around the court. The city and local partners – Sportchek, the current pickleball user group and Sunshine 89 FM – will contribute in-kind and/or cash contributions in the amount of $15,300 to help offset the costs of the program. The city’s cash contribution of $1,400 would be funded through its recreation program development budget.
It would be money well spent, staff contend. “The establishment of outdoor courts will help facilitate the formation of an unorganized group of seniors into a pickleball league,” said the report. “The benefits of this league would stimulate so much more than just the health benefits of the game by allowing for the expansion of senior social networks, promote physical literacy/health, volunteerism, and more.”
Once the installation is completed, city staff would work to establish an organized pickleball league to “engage different generations in the sport, thereby expanding and sustaining the league for years to come. This will also indirectly help to strengthen the indoor pickleball group that will be established in the new Orillia Recreation Facility.” The new facility will have six indoor regulation-size courts with six pickleball netting systems. Pickleball will be part of the menu of available drop-in programs at the new facility set to open this fall.
Council must ratify the decision next Monday night.