The location for a planned pickleball and tennis facility in Okotoks has been chosen.
At their October 10 meeting, town council chose between two recommended sites.
One was 10 Chinook Arch Way, located right next to Meadow Ridge School on the north end of town, with the other at the Cavalry FC Regional Fieldhouse.
The former was given a green rating by town administration, recommended due to the site already being zoned for recreation, its proximity to schools, and its location being within town limits, among other factors.
The fieldhouse location was given a yellow rating, with some benefits including pickleball players already being familiar with the location, and its distance from residential developments.
Councillor Brent Robinson moved a motion to proceed with the plan at the Chinook Arch location and spoke to why he preferred the site.
"I think having a location inside town boundaries that's connected to our active transportation network, that's connected to schools, all those types of things, promotes a type of lifestyle. Ease of use, ease of accessibility, those types of things that we're looking to promote in our outdoor recreation amenities. I think this is clearly the better of the two amenities. I'm satisfied that administration has done the proper homework in terms of at least looking at the town-owned lands we have available to us and screening this out as the most appropriate location."
Mayor Tanya Thorn also spoke to the motion.
"For me, it's that connection to the schools. We're seeing it with a lot of our other facilities. Schools can no longer afford bussing to bus their students. When I went to school, we got bussed to go take swimming lessons. That just doesn't exist anymore, so you have to be walkable, so I see some great opportunities here to expand the sport for you in the community. The other piece for me as a bigger offshoot for this is it'll service our community needs, but I think there's an opportunity that it's also an extremely great economic driver... There isn't a facility that exists is the reason so we're not duplicating infrastructure that already exists, we're actually being the first to bring that infrastructure to the region in this format."
The project was approved as part of the 2023 operating budget, with the site having been chosen amid increasing interest in pickleball among locals.
At the moment, Okotoks has six outdoor pickleball courts and three tennis courts, with four provisional indoor pickleball courts at the Centennial Centre and no indoor options for tennis.
An exact amount of tennis and pickleball courts at the planned facility hasn't been chosen, though it's estimated there'll be a dozen pickleball courts with fewer tennis courts due to their size, with both indoor and outdoor options.
The purpose-built pickleball and tennis facility has an estimated budget of $8 million, with the town to contribute $2 million to construction and another $3 million to service the site. The remainder is to be covered by partnerships, grants, and donations, and the completed facility is planned to be operated as a not-for-profit.
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