CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had indicated the committee of the whole meeting would take place March 20. It will actually take place March 27. The story below has been edited to correct this error.
Newmarket council will consider turning the Lions Park tennis courts into a dedicated pickleball court facility to meet the demand of the burgeoning sport.
The committee of the whole meeting March 27 will discuss the idea from staff, which would utilize funding garnered from the Shining Hill development. Newmarket will also be discussing the management of a new tennis facility being built at Shining Hills, as well as its 2023 budget.
Here is what NewmarketToday will be following:
New home proposed for pickleball
A new pickleball facility could come into place, managed by a brand-new local pickleball club.
With a new tennis facility getting built in Shining Hill, town staff are recommending the Lions Park tennis courts be converted into a dedicated pickleball facility.
Staff said with the Shining Hill facility only having 10 of the 12 courts originally agreed to due to site limitations, the developer has agreed to provide two more courts at town-selected locations. Two such courts can accommodate six to eight pickleball courts, the report said, and so staff is recommending redirecting that funding.
To run the new facility, a new volunteer pickleball club has formed, with staff recommending a new partnership similar to what the town has with the Newmarket Tennis Club. Debra Scott will be presenting to council Monday to discuss the club.
However, there are caveats. The Lions Park community rink would no longer be able to occupy this area, with the courts still potentially getting used in the winter with a bubble.
“Staff can work with the volunteers to further develop opportunities in Lions Park for a rink to continue operation in the future,” the staff report said.
The town is examining ending the longstanding winter management of its tennis facility as it prepares to open a new one.
A private group has run the town’s existing downtown facility for years, with the Newmarket Tennis Club managing it in the summer. But with a new facility being built to replace the old one, staff is recommending having the municipality run the club in the winter instead.
Despite interest from private groups, staff said there could be a $113,000 annual surplus by running the facility municipally in the winter. A report said that stands to be much more than the town would get from a private agreement.
“In essence, this type of surplus is exactly why private operators exist – though private operators often charge higher prices and don’t offer a financial subsidy program,” the report said.
The report said the majority of public feedback has suggested a preference for the current, private provider. However, it added that “there has been a plurality of feedback from those that would prefer a town-operated club, citing issues around fairness and financial accessibility.”
Budget talks continue
Town council wants to bring a possible 2023 tax increase down from 7.63 per cent to 5.5 per cent and will review strategies to make that happen.
Staff has examined several ways to achieve this, including adjusting janitorial contracts at the town office, deferring playground maintenance and reducing this year’s contribution to asset replacement.
But a staff report indicates that thus far, staff has got the number to 5.99 per cent, short of the 5.5 per cent goal set by council.
The budget talks will be streamed at 9 a.m March 20. You can view the stream at newmarket.ca/meetings.You can attend in person at 395 Mulock Dr. and arrange a deputation or send a letter by contacting [email protected].