Pickleball is getting to be very popular worldwide and now in Cobourg. The Cobourg Pickleball club had 67 members in 2021 and now has 227 members. Currently they share 19 facilities (courts): 6 indoors at the CCC, 10 at Sinclair Park and 3 at Peter Delanty Park. But shared courts are not optimum and the club wants dedicated courts – and they’ve chosen Sinclair Park. They believe they can do the conversion (to dedicated) for $250,000 for 10 courts but Town staff report that the cost will be more like $733K for 6 courts and $1,070K for 12 courts. Although it does not have to be done all at once, that’s a big difference. Further, staff do not seem convinced that Sinclair Park is the best location and cite pickleball’s known noise issue and the proximity to residences.
Sinclair Park not suitable
Director Brian Geerts says that in its current state, Sinclair Park does not meet several of the design guidelines for the Athletic Park Type (location, pedestrian circulation, vehicular circulation, landscaping). An athletic park should be located in commercial or industrial areas with buffers away from residential areas. The park should be well organized with defined/ clustered recreation/ athletic facilities. A centrally located building should house public washrooms, concessions, storage, change rooms, etc. An internal pedestrian network should link all facilities within the park and connect to the town-wide pedestrian system. (Parks Master Plan, 2013). Brian notes that “the notation regarding Athletic parks’ industrial and commercial placement is driven by the need to mitigate nuisance factors such as lighting, noise, and parking.”
The club wants a lease (not an MOU) that specifies exclusive use – this means that the three tennis courts and two of the baseball diamonds would be decommissioned plus only Pickleball club players could use storage rooms or washrooms. However, the two staff designs show the Tennis courts staying. See Resources below. They want agreement to lease the facilities at Sinclair park for $1 per year for 20 years, a grant of $125K and an interest-free loan of $125K. They are hopeful that the loan would not be needed if they can get a grant from Trillium although that cannot be guaranteed.
The club does concede that Tennis players would have exclusive use of the existing Peter Delanty Park tennis courts.
Director Geerts points out that the designs for Sinclair Park are from a “preliminary feasibility analysis and this is not a project plan; it is a way to evaluate whether or not a project could be successful”. A better location would be the CCC (per the campus plan – see image) although outdoor courts would need to be built from scratch. (See Staff report for more details). However, new outdoor courts at the CCC would fit with existing plans and would not have the same problems.
Quick Approval Requested
But the Pickleball club is in a hurry – they would like approval at the upcoming CoW Council meeting on August 14 so work can start in October 2023 and mostly be complete in Spring 2024.
The club expects 250 members in 2024 paying a membership fee of $50 rising to 350 members in 2026 paying a membership fee of $60.
Both the Town and club agree that more public consultation would be needed for the Sinclair Park option.
Staff have offered two options for Council to consider:
- Ask the Club to “develop pickleball court site selection criteria based on industry best practices to demonstrate due diligence to the community, a noise mitigation plan, a detailed business case, and financing plan for further consideration”.
- Go ahead with a lease agreement and funding as requested (per the 2023 budget) that would “transition Sinclair Park racquet courts from a public service to a privatized not-for-profit operating model for the purposes of offering the sport of Pickleball in leagues, formats, and schedules that are accessible to all citizens of Cobourg and the surrounding area” while recognising that Sinclair Park is not optimum and that three baseball diamonds would be decommissioned. Also designate the existing courts at Peter Delanty Park as dedicated tennis courts.
If you are like me, you might wonder where Sinclair Park is – it’s accessed off William street on the corner of Harden and Sinclair Streets.
Expect a debate at the CoW. It’s clear that Town Staff would prefer Option 1 but they have provided another option and Council can direct them against their preference.
- Option A Design, 12 courts – Option A cost estimate
- Option B Design, 6 Courts – Option B cost estimate
- Staff report by Director Brian Geerts
- Pickleball club’s “Business plan”
- Letter from Pickleball club with additional information
- Survey Results
- List of Cobourg’s Parks (page on Cobourg Internet site)
Addendum – 14 August 2023
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Miriam Mutton moved that Council work with the Pickleball club to create outdoor Pickleball courts at the Cobourg Community Centre (CCC) (Option 1). Nicole Beatty amended the motion to specify an MOU instead of a Lease. The motion passed. Although not specifically discussed, it’s likely that a preliminary plan and the cost will be included in 2024 budget deliberations. The motion will need to be ratified in next week’s regular Council meeting