There was no racket at Barrie council general committee on Monday over a staff report recommending an additional eight dedicated pickleball courts at Painswick Park.
This would bring to 12 the number of dedicated pickleball courts at the south end park, located at Big Bay Point Road and Ashford Drive.
Pickleball is a growing sport across North America that involves a racket and combines the elements of table tennis, badminton and tennis.
The staff report that was approved without discussion includes lighting, the removal of the existing soccer field, relocating the existing ball diamond, expanding the existing parking area, and adding new accessible pathways with lighting in the park.
Painswick Park is currently under expansion and will include two major baseball diamonds to be completed this year.
According to staff, the Barrie Pickleball Club has expressed interest in hosting both local and regional level tournaments.
Currently, the city has pickleball courts in 11 of its parks, five shared-used courts and six dedicated parks, with four more courts to come on board at Eastview Community Park this year.
Due to existing demand for tennis court facilities in the city, staff did not recommend converting existing tennis courts to pickleball courts or to add shared-use facilities between pickleball and tennis.
The budget for eight new pickleball courts is $650,000, plus $1.26 million for the Painswick Park rehabilitation.
On March 7, city council referred back a staff motion for a new $1.3 million pickleball facility with 14 professional standard courts at the Barrie Community Sports Complex in Midhurst.
At the time, Coun. Mike McCann said the proposed location would not fly on his watch because of accessibility and the lack of transit service to the area.
In an interview with Barrie 360 prior to council’s decision on Monday, McCann said he wanted to put Barrie pickleball on the map for tournaments where it is recognized not just in Ontario but across Canada.
He said pickleball is a great sport for all ages.
“It’s not taxing on the body and not taxing on the knees,” McCann said. “You can have a variance in skill level and still enjoy the game, unlike tennis, where you really need to be competitors at the same level.”
Most games, said McCann, last about 15 to 20 minutes.
The timeline to have the eight new courts ready for play is summer 2023.
Monday’s decision requires city council approval on March 28.