Could Coquitlam use more indoor tennis courts?
Six years after the Coquitlam Tennis Club first started lobbying council for a new public indoor facility, a feasibility study has offered up three alternatives — none of which are in the city's five-year plan.
It was a disappointing blow for Kiyo Breiting, a passionate tennis advocate who has been representing Tri-City tennis players on the city's sport council.
"We really would like to have it within five years because we've been waiting six years already," Breiting said.
Several tennis groups have made pitches to council over the years, suggesting everything from up to four more outdoor courts at Town Centre Park to an indoor facility in the city's northeast.
In 2011, Coquitlam ponied up $10,000 to evaluate the feasibility of a tournament-level facility. Matching funds were received from Tennis Canada last spring and a recreation consultant was hired to do the study, which found:
• of Coquitlam's 34 outdoor courts, 21 are in good condition, seven are in fair condition and six are in need of major upgrades;
• Coquitlam has fewer courts per 1,000 people compared to six Metro Vancouver cities but Coquitlam's are in better condition;
• tennis is a growing sport in Canada, with participation rates up 18.5% from 2008 to 2010;
• and in 2011/’12, 433 Coquitlam residents played in a public league, compared to 379 four years earlier.
The study suggested three options for improving tennis facilities.
Alternative A ($1.5 million) would improve the existing facilities, re-purposing little-used sites needing major repairs and clustering more courts together in fewer locations.
Breiting said the club would like to see the city choose Alternative B ($7.5 million), which would build a public indoor facility with at least six courts.
Brian Johnston of Professional Environmental Recreation Consultants Ltd. said in his presentation to council that such an option would turn a 100-day activity into a year-round operation, allowing more people to take part in an already popular — and growing — sport in the community.
And while an indoor facility brings an initial capital investment, Johnston said they "usually result in no operating deficit," citing an indoor facility in North Vancouver where an operating surplus is paying down the capital costs.
Alternative C ($13 million) would establish an international tennis centre with eight outdoor and eight indoor courts as well as spectator seating. A staff report notes such a facility would "significantly enhance competition and sport tourism opportunities" but there may be better sites elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. Tennis Canada would provide up to 50% of the funding but would also control the facility.
Breiting said the committee prefers the second option so local groups can decide on programming and tournaments.
A new indoor facility is needed because the only option is the private People's Court in Coquitlam, which can be expensive, Breiting said, and is shut down during snowfalls.
"We want to have affordable public indoor tennis courts," Breiting said, adding there are many such facilities in Vancouver and the North Shore, meaning local players have to travel to play in tournaments.
Council agreed to receive the report for information and will include it as a component in the parks master plan slated for completion later this year.