Penticton’s loss could be Summerland’s gain.
As the City of Penticton continues dragging its heels on a request to make good on a 14-year-old promise to build new indoor tennis courts, the District of Summerland has an opportunity to corner the market, council was told at its meeting Monday.
“There’s no indoor tennis anywhere in the South Okanagan. There are facilities in Kelowna, there’s a facility in Vernon, there’s a facility in Kamloops, but there’s nothing (in Summerland) and to the south of us,” said Bill Everitt, past-president of Summerland’s Lakeshore Raquets Club
“For Summerland to host the only indoor tennis facility in the South Okanagan, we think, would be a big boost for our town, bringing tennis players from around the valley to stay and play with the economic benefits that follow.”
Everitt suggested indoor tennis courts could be incorporated in the proposed Summerland health and recreation centre, which is under discussion now. Including indoor tennis courts as part of a larger facility would reduce capital costs, he said, while making the community more attractive to families and retirees.
“We have, essentially, a two- or three-month playing time (outdoors) with shoulder seasons on the front and back end. Trying to develop any kinds of programs with kids, with schools, is very limited,” added Everitt.
He submitted to council letters of support from every tennis club in the region, along with information from Tennis Canada that claims it’s the third-most-popular sport among new Canadians.
Coun. Doug Holmes suggested tennis courts will be as important to future generations of Canadians as swimming pools and arenas were to previous generations.
“If you think of the sports that are available here, they’re not really the sports that are of interest to a diverse population,” said Holmes.
“If we’re talking about tackling systemic racism and institutional bias, we have to look at all the services and facilities that we operate, we have to look at ourselves, and is there a way to address that through what we provide our people.”
Summerland’s recreation manager, Lori Mullen, said consultants hired to design the new health and recreation centre have already heard the tennis presentation and are considering courts as part of a larger, multi-purpose facility.
As envisioned, the new health and creation centre would replace Summerland’s failing aquatic centre and the undersized gym at Summerland Secondary School, plus include space for a new primary clinic and other health professionals.
The partners in the project are School District 67, District of Summerland, Interior Health and South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice.
Funding has not yet been lined up for the centre, except for $10 million committed by SD 67 to replace the school gym.
Penticton city council in February voted to turn down a request for a new tennis bubble while a broader review of municipally owned assets is underway. The last such bubble was torn down in 2007 to make way for the South Okanagan Events Centre. City council of the day pledged to rebuild it elsewhere, but that never happened.