Coquitlam will have its first dedicated pickleball courts this fall.
Yesterday (Feb. 28), the city’s council-in-committee heard how staff plan to covert three existing tennis courts at Bramble Park into eight courts for pickleball — one of the fastest-growing sports in North America.
Located at 2775 Panorama Dr. by Bramblewood Elementary, and away from Westwood Plateau homes, Bramble Park was picked last year as a pickleball test site to meet the rise in demand.
Julie McRitchie, president of the PoCoMo Pickleball Club, a year-old non-profit group whose 300-plus members play at Bramble Park, as well as the outdoor courts at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre, said the news is exciting.
“We’re very happy that they’re going to convert the courts,” she told the Tri-City News today (March 1). “This is a huge step for us in the right direction.”
“We thank city council and our members for helping us spread the knowledge of pickleball.”
According to a city report, racquet sports boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic when residents flocked outdoors to boost their physical and mental health.
Tiina Mack, Coquitlam’s manager of parks and facility planning, told the committee the retrofit of the Bramble courts will cost about $65,000 — funded through the Sport Court Capital Program — and take up to three weeks, with completion set for this fall.
Coun. Craig Hodge, who championed the permanent conversion at Bramble Park, said the city had to respond to the surging numbers of players who hit the courts 12 months a year.
Besides fitness, he said, the sport is a social, low-barrier game that’s played by all ages.
And unlike other areas, Bramble Park has lights, parking, a washroom shared with SD43 and “noise isn’t as big as a factor. It’s a really good spot,” said Hodge.
POP POP POP
In January, the Tri-City News highlighted the issues around pickleball acoustics at the tennis courts at Blue Mountain Park, where pickleball is also permitted.
Mack said many B.C. municipalities are struggling with the same issue, where the noise of the whiffle ball hitting the paddle can be an irritant in residential neighbourhoods. (Port Moody removed the pickleball lines from its tennis courts at Chestnut Way Park last year).
Coun. Trish Mandewo, who plays both pickleball and tennis, said she’s pleased the city is accommodating pickleball, as she heard as many as 300 players were at Blue Mountain Park on one day last year.
Mandewo said she’s witnessed fights because of the competition to get on the courts; RCMP were called to diffuse the confrontations. “This is a sport that people are very, very passionate about,” she said.
Still, Mandewo said the conversion of Bramble Park means the loss of three outdoor courts for tennis.
And she voiced concern about the difficulty to access indoor tennis courts at The Tennis Centre, the private operator of the city’s covered indoor tennis facility on Foster Avenue.
According to Tennis Canada, the sport grew 36 per cent between 2017 and 2019 — largely due to the success of tennis players at global competitions.
Besides the courts conversion at Bramble Park, the city plans to:
- update signage at outdoor facilities to highlight that drop-in casual play will be limited to 30 minutes
- return to pre-pandemic programming for indoor pickleball
- open four indoor pickleball courts at the updated Place Maillardville Community Centre (2022) plus
- three indoor pickleball courts at the new YMCA in Burquitlam (2022)
- one outdoor tennis court at Blue Mountain Park (2025)
- eight indoor pickleball courts at the yet-unbuilt North East Community Centre (2026)
- three outdoor tennis courts at Cottonwood Park (2026)
- new courts at the Burke Mountain middle/high school
As well, Mack said city staff will liaise with the operator of The Tennis Centre about expansion plans.
But Coun. Chris Wilson argued the city doesn’t rely on public-private partnerships to fund other sports amenities such as pools and gyms.
“Tennis is going to continue to grow,” he said.
“I think it’s something that we need to move on quickly rather than just wait.”
Meanwhile, Mandewo said New Westminster’s mayor and city council want to go head-to-head with Coquitlam’s for a pickleball challenge.
You can visit the pickleball page of the City of Coquitlam's website for court bookings and other information.