Port Moody to build first three dedicated pickleball courts

Port Moody will be building its first three dedicated pickleball courts at Town Centre Park on Ioco Road.

Council voted unanimously to approve staff’s interim plan on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Longer-term solutions are being examined in a feasibility study on recreational infrastructure, expected to complete by the end of 2024.

Both pickleball and tennis have been increasing in popularity, leading to conflicts over space and noise due to the increasing popularity of pickleball, according to staff.

The POCOMO Pickleball Club has approached the city with requests for more courts, along with proper pickleball markings on tennis courts, and signage detailing court-use rules.

Pickleballers have been waiting a long time for more court space.

In Port Moody’s 2015 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, pickleball court was not included in any planning regarding the expansion of outdoor courts.

Staff said this was because it was initially thought of as an indoor sport, but since COVID-19, pickleball demand has moved outdoors, resulting in “considerable pressure” on all court space.

The previous master plan had also calculated that tennis popularity was declining, but that trend has reversed, adding to the pressure.

Satisfaction ratings for both sports have long indicated that more programs and space were needed, according to the staff report.

The city’s 2019-2022 Corporate Project Plan had included a plan to develop a strategy around tennis and pickleball, but the project stalled as staff waited on the BC Recreation & Parks Association (BCRPA) to complete noise guidelines for the sport.

The noise is frequently cited as a major problem. In 2021, Port Moody removed pickleball courts from the tennis courts at Chestnut Way Park due to the racket.

And demand continues to grow; pickleball is often cited as one of the fastest growing sports in Canada.

A 2022 Ipsos survey found there were around 900,000 households in Canada with pickleball players, an increase of around 650,000 in just two years.

The POCOMO Pickleball Club alone counts around 400 members among its ranks.

While there is an indoor pickleball program at the Port Moody Recreation Centre, dedicated tennis courts at Town Centre Park, North Shore Community Park and Chestnut Way Park, and shared courts at Easthill Park and Art Wilkinson Park, it is still not enough.

Staff say the tennis courts are heavily used, and indoor courts are at or near capacity.

Since BCRPA released its pickleball guidelines in 2023, staff have determined that Town Centre Park is the most optimal choice for new pickleball courts.

Design work has been completed for two courts, and using capital funds and the funds from the Growing Community reserve, staff recommended expanding the scope for a third court.

“(This) will provide some relief from the pressure to expand court space, while staff continue to work on a longer-term court and amenity strategy,” the staff report stated, adding that further recreational amenities are best planned in the scope of the city’s other recreational needs.

Port Moody’s Feasibility Study of New Recreation Facilities is a high priority for the city, and will examine demographics, regional services, recreational trends, community and user feedback, and financial considerations.

New courts and potential locations will be considered for a range of sports, including tennis, pickleball, basketball, lacrosse, badminton, and ball hockey. It will also examine potential land acquisitions for more park space.

Further council decisions will come after the study is released at the end of the year.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch