The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) has scored an asset win for Fruitvale’s pickleball fans, which is set to fuel the juggernaut that the low-impact, social sport has become. 

The Columbia Basin Trust has earmarked $34,500 to help the Beaver Valley Regional Parks and Regional Trails Committee fund the cost of an outdoor regulation pickleball court in Beaver Valley Family Park, adding to those already built over recent years in Genelle and Oasis. 

“Demand for outdoor activities and recreation assets has grown because of the pandemic and we’ve seen a resulting societal shift towards their use,” said Will Nixon, senior manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust. “These grants help communities create or improve outdoor recreational facilities that support active, healthy lifestyles.” 

Ali Grieve, Electoral Area A director, and chair of Beaver Valley Recreation Committee says that the sport of pickleball has really taken off in North America with an increase in participation of 21.3% between 2019-2020, making it the fastest growing sport in North America. “The great thing about pickleball is that virtually anyone can play and there will be no user fees to use the court”. 

Over the last 10 years, Beaver Valley Family Park, located just seven minutes east of Fruitvale, has witnessed a steady increase in overnight camping and visitor numbers due to amenity improvements including an 18-hole regulation disc golf course and a new children’s playground. 

With minimum disruption expected to park users during its construction, having a dedicated pickleball court built on the existing basketball site is good news for building a growing community of cross-generational players who usually have to overcome line confusion and unnecessarily chase balls over larger areas, when courts are multi-use or converted. 

Mark Daines, Manager of Facilities and Recreation at the RDKB explains, “This project has been driven by pickleball’s rising popularity as well as the low usage of the current basketball court and may not have been possible without the help of the Columbia Basin Trust. We are truly grateful for their financial support, which will give local people of all ages, as well as visitors to the area, even more reason to have fun together, keep mentally fit and stay physically active in our outdoor spaces.” 

Combining the elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball has lower barriers to entry than technically demanding sports and hooks first timers in quickly with its promise to get good at it, fast. Players who discovered the benefits of the pandemic-era hobby and have fueled its explosive growth used it to get outside and have fun from the moment they picked up their first paddle. 

The total cost of the project is $70,000 which will be part funded by the Beaver Valley Regional Parks and Regional Trails’ budget. Local contractors will complete the build of the new pickleball court in August 2022, which will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Once its officially opened this summer, players will be able to sign out equipment if they do not own their own paddles and balls.