Vernon pickleballers make passionate appeal - InfoNews

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Vernon pickleballers make passionate appeal

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
April 09, 2019 - 7:00 PM

VERNON - When Rob Irving said his club's members had a "healthy passion for pickleball" he wasn't exaggerating.

Vernon Pickleball Association members filled almost every seat at the City's Apr. 8 meeting, something normally only seen when council are set to discuss more controversial files. However, to the club's 400 members the issue of their lease and operating terms with the City of Vernon appears to be weighing heavily.

Club president Rob Irving addressed council asking for them to endorse several requests, two of which concern the club's right to operate the newly constructed pickleball courts which opened at Marshall Fields last August.

Irving explained to council how instead of the $1.4-million estimated by the Regional District of the North Okanagan the club managed to construct the 12 courts for $600,000. The club got grants, but also managed to fundraise $110,000 themselves.

Now instead of giving over the operation of the pickleball courts to the players, as an original agreement with the RDNO stated, the city wants to take over the management of the courts, and schedule times for non-club members to play pickleball.

Irving told council that association members donated large amounts of money and time and effort into the construction of the courts and members had invested "sweat equity" and "emotional energy" and encountered "no shortage of roadblocks" but still got the courts build for a fraction of what the regional district estimated.

"All this was done with the understanding the (association) would have rights and responsibilities as a tenant in accordance with a lease that was signed in June 2017," Irving told council. "Nowhere in the lease does it say the landlord has subletting rights."

Irving isn't the first passionate pickleball player to appeal to the city. Lane Roberts lost a legal battle with the Vernon Pickleball Association after receiving a lifetime suspension. He lost the battle in court.

Irving said the club felt like they were being treated like "profit-seeking developers with deep pockets," Irving said.

The club president said it was in their "best interest" to provide public access as the general public were their future members.

Vernon councillor Brian Quiring questioned Irving about the club allowing public access saying a schedule needed to be set up.

"We committed to developing a schedule that will meet the needs of both members and non-members," Irving said.

Irving asked council to consider the appeal with an open mind and as a partnership.

Irving also asked council that concerns surrounding a misplaced fire hydrant and extra parking also be recognized.

The ball is now in the city's court. It's unclear what action, if any, the city will take.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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