Tofino’s lack of indoor recreation options and the current condition of its outdoor courts have left residents in a pickle, prompting a letter from a local senior and beseeching from an outgoing councillor for more to be done.
During the last meeting of their term on Oct. 11, Tofino’s now former municipal council reviewed a letter from resident Janet St. Pierre requesting that the town’s proposed indoor recreation facility include four designated pickleball courts.
The 65 year-old wrote that they have lived in Tofino for 55 years and been active in sports as a player, coach and organizer, but experiences chronic pain due to a disability and injuries.
“It is important that I remain active to maintain a comfortable, somewhat pain free life. It is because of this that I come forward with a proposal that I believe would not only benefit myself, but many others like me, and at the same time increase our health and wellbeing,” St. Pierre wrote.
The lengthy letter included information around the history of pickleball, noting that the low-impact sport is accessible to all ages and is a particularly “healthy choice for seniors.”
Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Aaron Rodgers assured the indoor recreation facility Tofino is pursuing, which carries a cost estimate around $7 million, would indeed have room to accommodate four pickleball courts, but St. Pierre’s letter struck a chord with Coun. Cathy Thicke who suggested a stronger, more united, effort is needed to boost local recreation opportunities.
Thicke, who did not run for re-election, noted the town has not yet broken ground, or secured enough funding, for the recreation facility and said one of the goals identified by council was “to initiate and support efforts to promote healthy living.”
“I know we’ve had a pandemic and lots of staff changes, but I just want to remind everyone that it was spoken in 2021 that we would initiate strategic planning by July 2022 for parks and rec facilities and I just want to spark interest in the incoming council to take that torch and really carry it forward,” she said, adding residents need to help the process.
“It isn’t something that council can do on its own. It’s not something that staff can do on its own. The public really needs to get behind this. They need to lend support and advocacy, perhaps fundraising, there’s lots of ways to get involved. It’s been a long 30 years without a really significant indoor rec facility for our town and I think it’s time that we really reconsider this strategic priority going forward.”
She added Tofino gained Age Friendly Community status about 10 years ago.
“Time is slipping by, so I’m just saying that we need to work together going forward and even though I won’t be here in this seat, I will be supporting this initiative going forward.”
She added short-term solutions should be considered while the district pursues the indoor facility.
“We need some work done on those tennis courts,” she said. “The parks and rec staff have done a really good job of keeping everything trimmed back and that’s been a huge improvement, but they’re incredibly lumpy, they’re very slippery and a lot of people use that facility. So, I’d like to see a short term strategy brought forward to remediate the tennis courts and the pickleball courts.”
Coun. Duncan McMaster said tourists also play at the courts and wondered if Resort Municipality Initiative funding could help pay for upgrades.
Director of Community Services April Froment said staff plan to bring forward a proposed funding plan for the town’s courts in the near future.