By Steve Hubrecht

As the sport of pickleball continues to grow in popularity here in the Columbia Valley (and practically everywhere else on the continent) plans have been launched to build new outdoor pickleball courts in Fairmont Hot Springs.

The efforts are being led by the Fairmont and District Lions Club, which recently received a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust to build the courts in Wilder Memorial Park.

The grant is for $83,000 and comes from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) through its outdoor active recreation grants program.

Fairmont Lions treasurer, Norbert Schab, estimated the full cost of building the courts at $110,000. Aside from the CBT grant, the Lions have had another grant application for the project approved. This second grant is worth worth $6,000, and the Lions have raised an additional $12,000 for the pickleball courts. The club has one more grant application pending and still a further one that they will apply for in the spring.

“We’re going for this spring (to start construction),” Schab told the Pioneer.

The project will encompass two courts and once built, the courts will be suitable for organized competitions as well as for casual play and practices.

The Lions had initially thought to built three courts, but cost estimates were higher than anticipated, in part because of construction complications stemming from the low-lying nature of the land in Wilder Memorial Park. The Lions own the park which greatly simplified the project, as the club essentially contributed its own land for the pickleball courts.

The idea to build pickleball courts in the park was suggested by a Fairmont Lions member who is relatively new to the area and keen on the sport.

“We decided to look at it (building the courts) and see if we could get the money,” said Schab, adding the club is grateful to the CBT for its grant.

If all goes well and construction does in fact begin this spring, pickeballers may very well be swinging their clubs in Fairmont later this year.

“Of course it really all does depend on how building goes, but we hope that maybe we can be playing in the fall, if not in late summer,” said Schab. 

He noted that pickleball “is a very popular sport. It’s growing by leap and bounds” and that although it may have begun as a sport played mostly by seniors, it is rapidly becoming one embraced by all age groups, including youth. Schab explained that part of the appeal of the sport is that pickleball is easy to learn and offers physical exercise as well as a social experience.