More than 70 people attended a pickleball facility open house in the Snell Auditorium at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch Wednesday. Possible locations for the facility are the Collicutt Centre, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and 67 Street north of Riverside Drive. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

Red Deer pickleball open house a success

More than 70 people filled the Snell Auditorium to see plans for a 20-court pickleball facility

Red Deerians are getting their paddles ready for a new 20-court pickleball facility.

More than 70 people learned about three potential locations for the facility, which could open as soon as next spring, at an open house Wednesday at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch.

Shelley Gagnon, Red Deer recreation parks and culture manager, said the city has a big pickleball community.

“We were very pleased with the open house’s turnout,” she said. “There were a lot of pickleball enthusiasts there, but there were general members of the community as well.”

READ MORE: Pools and pickleball debated

The three possible locations are the Collicutt Centre, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and 67 Street, north of Riverside Drive.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America, Gagnon said.

“We started working with the pickleball club in 2013 when it was a small group of people. It has grown exponentially – last year the club estimated they had 200 members and are still growing,” she said.

Anyone can enjoy the game of pickleball, she added.

“It’s for all ages,” Gagnon said. “It’s a sport that isn’t too hard on body – it’s very social. It’s a real opportunity to get together, meet other people, socialize and be active at the same time.”

At the open house, attendees put sticky notes on boards to give their opinions on the locations.

“We weren’t really asking for people to vote on one location,” she said. “We were asking them to tell us what they liked about the site or what they saw to be a potential challenge.”

Some of the most frequent comments were about parking, washrooms, noise pollution and whether there would be enough space to host future tournaments.

Gagnon said she hasn’t had too much time to look through all the comments yet.

But “based on the number of stickies on the boards, Collicutt and Lindsay Thurber had far more comments,” she said.

Administration will look at community comments and decide what site would work best.

Gagnon said the plan is to then bring recommendations to council this month and hopefully begin construction this spring. If all goes well, the facility would open next spring.

More community opinions will be gathered at the Let’s Talk event Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Parkland Mall.

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