At their meeting on Aug. 21, Limerick Township council heard from residents and Steenburg Lake Community Association members Michael Duggan and Chris Langman regarding their petition to bring Pickleball and Tennis courts for community use to the Limerick Community Centre. Another organizer, Patrice Simmons, was present via Zoom. While council was supportive of the idea, and want to make it happen, there are still some logistical hurdles to clear before the courts can become a reality, hopefully by next spring.
Mayor Kim Carson introduced the delegation by Duggan and Langman regarding putting in two Pickleball and two Tennis Courts for the community to use at the Limerick Community Centre. They had nine pages of community members’ names who support putting in these courts. Duggan is a former Phys-Ed consultant and school principal who has been a Limerick resident since 1975.
“It is important that all Canadians have exercise. It’s good for physical well-being and mental well-being,” he says.
Duggan and Langman were requesting council’s approval for two Pickleball courts and two Tennis courts at the Limerick Community Centre, or depending on how much funding they can procure, at least two Pickleball courts. They said they can give lessons to whomever needs them and they expect a robust response and attendance to these courts to play Pickleball once they’re installed.
Council asked about scheduling and who would do that, as they didn’t want staff to have to become responsible for it with all their other responsibilities. Duggan said that they look after the scheduling, through an online system, but he says it also takes care of itself.
“The 40 people that arrive to play where I currently play, assume responsibility for everything that is required,” he says.
In addition, Duggan said that the Steenburg Lake Community Association executive has expressed their support for this initiative and will be bringing it up at their August annual meeting. Duggan also sent a letter to George Offshack, president of the Limerick Waterway Ratepayers Association and Brenda Schinzel, president of the Tri-Lakes Association (comprising Robinson Lake, Spring Lake, and Brinklow Lake) asking for their support of this initiative and offering them and their membership access to these courts once they’re put into place next year.
Offshack told The Bancroft Times that the LWRA is in support of the initiative if they do their homework and present a long-term management plan, as council had asked for during the meeting.
“In my 17 years of attending council meetings, I have seen way too many personal projects come and then fade away when that person gets old, passes away or moves away. A perfect example are the hiking trails at McGeachie conservation area. They were a personal goal of one Limerick politician a decade ago. He championed them like crazy, raised money and got them built. Once he had to move away due to health reasons, those trails have fallen into disrepair and no one really cares. What a waste,” he says.
Offshack says he can see that happening with these courts if there isn’t a management plan in place. He says he did some Internet research since the presentation and there are numerous web-based tennis/pickleball court management applications available for just a few dollars a month but he says that somebody had to be the administrator and someone has to pay those few dollars.
“So yes, we are in support as long as the organizers come back with a management solution that does not become a burden on the very limited municipal staff. As soon as I see that plan, the LWRA will write a letter of support for a Trillium grant that I think they plan to apply for,” he says.
Schinzel told The Bancroft Times that she personally knew nothing of this proposal until last week and that there was no decision on it yet.
“Tri-Lakes Association will meet on Sept. 30 for our fall meeting at the [Limerick Community Centre] and will bring the information forward to our membership at that time and will put it forward to a vote,” she says.
Pickleball is described as a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, played on a smaller court than tennis with a paddle similar to a table tennis paddle and a plastic ball with holes in it. Created by Washington state’s Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum back in 1965 as a game for the whole family, the first Pickleball court was built two years later, while a corporation was established in 1972 to protect this new sport’s creation. The first tournament was held in 1976 in Tukwila, Washington and Pickleball has since exploded in popularity around the world in the years since.
Carson said she was all for Duggan and Langman’s proposal for the Pickleball courts and wanted to make it happen, but there were some things that needed to be looked into before the township could fully commit, like insurance and ensuring that scheduling and maintaining the courts and the service are done long-term by Duggan and the other organizers.
“It will be a cost for the municipality, but I’d love to see more action here and more people coming and using the community centre. So, I’m going to see how we can make this happen. I’m thrilled to see how many signatures you got on your petition. It warms my heart all the effort and work you’ve put into this. It means a lot. There are things we have to consider on our end but love the fact that it’s a partnership. I think we are going to get to this for sure,” she says.
Council directed staff to figure out all the logistics of this initiative and bring it back to council for the September meeting.
Duggan told The Bancroft Times that he thought their presentation went very well and reiterated that it had been approved and that Tisdale is going to report back to council on cost and funding prior to their September meeting.
“The Limerick council has moved to become builders. The new courts, Tennis and Pickleball, will bring a new amenity for all residents hopefully for next spring. The new courts will help nurture better fitness and well-being. Our court committee presented over nine pages of support,” he says. “We are very pleased with the warm reception by Limerick council and their support.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times