The push for a new indoor multi-sport facility in Winkler is getting a boost from City Council.
Last April, Winkler Pickleball Association President, John Klassen, asked Council to be involved in future planning of such a facility.
Now, Council has agreed to provide city-owned land for the construction of a combination eight-court pickleball /two, full-court basketball facility.

"We've seen the explosion of growth that pickleball has. We have felt and heard about for many, many years, the shortage of indoor court facilities for basketball, for volleyball, for any number of other types of programming that would like to be there," said Mayor Henry Siemens. "And as much as possible, we've been using the schools and we've been using the churches and we've been using any other indoor space that we can find, But the rapid growth of both of these sports (pickleball and basketball) in our community has led us to a place that the only real way forward is to try to help these groups get their own dedicated building." 

The City is also adding a $1.5 million financial contribution to the effort.

"I think ultimately, what we really wanted to do is to get this group officially started," said Siemens. "They worked very hard to bring awareness to Council, making sure that we understood the need. We wanted to show support towards that need, and then what we really wanted to do is kick start them to get them going." 

According to Siemens, a number of things came together quite quickly in order for the city do make this happen.

"We've had a number of projects now that have come in at budget or below that allowed us not to have to use some of the funds that we had put aside for worst-case scenarios," he explained. "We've also had some advance payments on some of our projects, our water and wastewater, that we've been able to put into the bank and we've been able to generate some good returns on so, we ended up in a spot that allowed us to do this."

The mayor feels a multi-court facility like this would bring a variety of benefits to Winkler and its residents.

"We know that healthy communities have many, and varied, infrastructure options that have recreation options. This would be one more recreation option that would help to entice people to consider this community, whether it's to visit or to move," he said. "But I think when we have a year-round access to a multi-sport facility, that is something that we're always interested in trying to find ways to do. Gone are the days of building single sport/single event types of facilities. We want to have a facility that's going to be actively used. It's going to help promote health and wellness. It's going to promote social connection and active lifestyle."
Now, Council has tasked the local pickleball association and basketball community to design a building and research which spot of land would work best for such a venue.

"At this point in time, we've simply said city-owned land," noted the mayor when asked if there was a particular parcel the Council had in mind. "We do have a number of pieces of land. We don't know exactly where that could be. We're going to ask the group to do their research and to work with our staff to try to find the best fit."

City staff will also be actively involved in planning process. For example, if there's a sponsorship opportunity for the building, that would need to filter through the City's new Advertising and Naming Rights policy. 

With files from Pam Fedack