The Town of Newmarket is going ahead with a new outdoor pickleball facility to meet demand for the popular sport, to be run by a newly formed pickleball club.
The new courts would be available during the warmer months at the current location of the Lions Park tennis courts. Council committee of the whole voted March 27 to build a dedicated, 12 to 14 court facility in that space.
“We are embarking on a new and exciting time for pickleball,” Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said, as dozens of audience members applauded in the council chambers.
Debra Scott, who presented to council as president of the 130-member Newmarket Pickleball Club, thanked council for creating needed facilities for the sport.
“We have continued to play year-round outdoors,” she said. “Many of you, I’m sure, have already heard from your constituents that it is difficult to find a place to play … We're looking forward to partnering with the municipality as these plans proceed.”
The move comes as the town responds to the rising popularity of support, which prompted it to hold an open house earlier this year. Director of recreation and culture Colin Service said the town could run pickleball at its Magna Centre every hour it is open and “it would still be full.”
The proposal will see the pickleball club operate the outdoor court at Lions Park, similar to how the Newmarket Tennis Club currently runs the Keith Davis Tennis Centre in the summer.
The current plan is for the facility to be closed in the winter, however, town staff suggested that in the future a sports dome, or bubble, would allow the courts to remain open during the winter, which would require the relocation of the volunteer-run community hockey rink that operates there now.
Chris Howie, who has run the popular community rink for the past nine years, told council that the current location is critical to maintaining good ice.
“I agreed to that location nine years ago. It’s been a great success for the community,” he said.
Newmarket Mayor John Taylor emphasized that the rink will be able to continue operation next winter and for years to come. Any consideration for bubbling the courts, and subsequently moving the rink, would be years down the line and would only come with public consultation, he added.
Besides the Lions Park courts on D'Arcy Street, a Quaker Park facility on William Roe Blvd. will have lines exclusively for pickleball.
Service also said the tennis facility to be built in the Shining Hill development at the south end of town could have some time for pickleball during winter daytime hours, but with lines created with tape, rather than permanent markings. However, he said during winter weekends, evenings and throughout the summer, the tennis facility would be exclusively for tennis.
Members of the public filled part of the council chambers to watch the proceedings and decision-making on pickleball and tennis.
The resolution will still need to be finalized at a council meeting.