In 2017, Chilliwack’s pickleball club had 56 members; in five years, they’ve swelled to 360 members. Mission Pickleball Club photo.

In 2017, Chilliwack’s pickleball club had 56 members; in five years, they’ve swelled to 360 members. Mission Pickleball Club photo.

The Mission Pickleball Club wants more pickleball courts

2 pickleball courts always full, tennis courts always empty, delegation to city says

The Mission Pickleball Club wants more pickleball courts.

Club members Bob MacMillan and Don Barden laid out their case for why the city should invest in more courts in a delegation to council on April 19.

There are currently 27 due-paying members in their club, but in recent years, there’s been a massive spike in popularity everywhere, MacMillan said.

“Tennis, badminton and ping pong all wrapped into one – that’s pickleball,” he said, adding it’s an inclusive sport, easy to learn, cheap to play, and competitive at all ages.

“Where else can you see grandparents, parents and grandkids all in the same court all playing and being very competitive.”

Currently, Mission only has two courts, and there’s always a long line of players waiting to get a game in, according to MacMillan.

He says that their members often travel to Abbotsford, or even drive 45 minutes to Chilliwack to find more courts. Some seniors even travel south to the U.S. to play year round.

Chilliwack was used as an example of the growth potential. In 2017, Chilliwack’s club had 56 members, and in five years, they’ve swelled to 360 members – over a 600 per cent increase, MacMillan said. He credits the growth to their indoor facility, which can fit 14 courts.

“The sport is not going away, it is increasing everywhere,” he said.

School districts are even starting to introduce the sport into schools, and tennis courts are no longer built on school property because there are too few players, MacMillan said.

He said the basic skills and rules of pickleball can be taught in an hour, you don’t have to be an athlete to play, and it only takes a third of the space a tennis court does.

MacMillan said that Mission is not maximizing the land usage of its current facilities. He remembers that one day there were 19 people waiting to play on the two courts; one of their members took a drive to see the tennis courts at Centennial Park, and its four courts were completely empty, save one person practising his serve.

The group wants either a new facility, or unmaintained sites to be refurbished for pickleball, and listed off several possible options.

Mission council was generally receptive to the idea. The city’s long-time director of parks and recreation recently retired, and a replacement has not yet been made.

Mayor Paul Horn said the new director is going to have a lot of work ahead of them, and one of the first things on their agenda will be the state of the city’s facilities.

“What we’ve asked staff to do, and will have to do in conjunction with the new person coming aboard, is have a strategy for us to review our facilities in general,” Horn said.

“I think this will be part of that conversation because I think there’s so many different things that we have to undertake at one at one time.”

Mission