Thursday, February 09, 2017

In a pickle

by Kate Bouey - CASTANET Feb 9, 2017 / 11:23 am
Local politicians are in a pickle following a request for $500,000 to help build dedicated pickleball courts at Marshall Field. The Vernon Pickleball Association is fundraising and applying for grants in an effort to raise the rest of the $1.2 million needed to build the outdoor facility. Pickleball spokesperson Pat Andrews told the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee on Thursday, that it was hoped construction could start in the spring in order to be ready for the BC 55+ Games in Vernon in September. Vernon director Bob Spiers said that was over optimistic, especially without federal grant money in place. Spiers also questioned the request for cash. “The original proposal was for a completely covered (facility) for another 1.8 million and they were going to raise money through a loan, I believe, and pay it back over ten years,” said Spiers. “Orginally, they wanted us to upfront the loan they were going to get and now they are coming back after we gave them the opportunity to use Marshall Field as the land base. I'm conflicted.” Electoral Area C director Mike Macnabb expressed confusion, stating he would have to think about the request. “It is a bit of a change from what was orginally asked but for me it's encouraging they are being very proactive, even in their fundraising,” said Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson. “We don't often get that kind of support from a group, financially.” The plan is to construct 12 pickleball courts right next to the Vantage One soccer centre, with a view to covering the courts with a roof – as money permits – so that they could be used year round. Pickleball association members have stressed they are desperate for more space and have shortened games and capped the membership at 333.
Pickleball funds uncertain
by Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star Greater Vernon posted Feb 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM
It’s uncertain if cash will be pumped into a new sports facility. On Thursday, the Vernon Pickleball Association asked the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee for $500,000 to go towards dedicated courts, with the hope of having them open this September. “Timing wise there are a lot of challenges,” said director Jim Garlick, adding that GVAC’s 2017 budget is basically completed and the regional district would have to look at its ability to borrow the money. There are also concerns about the pickleball association’s ability to raise a matching $500,000. Director Doug Dirk believes the association’s goal of receiving federal and provincial government grants this spring is unrealistic. “They won’t likely announce (successful grants) until the summer so there’s not enough time to do it before the 55+ Games,” he said. Currently, the association has raised $53,000 for courts at Marshall Field and various donors are being pursued. “There are some big federal and provincial grants coming out,” said Pat Andrews, with the VPA. The VPA currently has 333 members and pickleball occurs inside at four different sites. “We are using all of these facilities to capacity. There is a shortage of available space,” said Andrews. In the summer, pickleball is played outdoors at three locations but there have been issues with noise and parking. Andrews says permanent courts will allow local residents to be active. “It will enhance the tourist industry in Vernon,” she said, adding that a three-day tournament would generate $285,000 in economic benefits.A GVAC decision on the $500,000 request won’t be known until March 9.

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