Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ongoing Opposition to New Tennis Courts at Cedar Hill

I am impressed with the proposed clay tennis court proposal for Cedar Hill Park and really can not understand the objections to the idea but no matter how good the idea, someone in this region has to come out opposed to even the best of ideas.

The Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society is proposing to build eight new clay courts at Cedar Hill park on a piece of ground that is currently not being used for much at all.  

Note: It seems people are unaware of what clay court means.   Clay court does not mean a solid slab of clay, it actually means a crushed rock or brick surface.   It is a very fine crushed material, it has been a long time since I last played on one, but it was more like a coarse sand.
The proposed tennis court locations
Saanich is being asked to make the land available, a grant of $100,000 and a loan of $250,000 in return for the premier tennis courts on Vancouver Island with 1500 hours or court time per year available at no cost to Saanich Recreation and annual grant of $2500 to the municipality .  That is about 40 to 45 hours per week of court time.   Averaged out over five years, the cost per hour for Saanich for the courts would be about $17 per hour.  If we average it out over 10 years it is a bit less than $8 per hour.   When compared to the costs of the existing hard court tennis courts this is a very good deal.

The cost of the construction and maintenance of the courts falls on the society, not on Saanich.   The society expects to spend $1,300,000 for the courts to be built of which $950,000 would come directly from the society and $250,000 would be paid back to Saanich.      It means Saanich gains access to the best tennis courts on the island without any ongoing cost liability from the construction or operation.  

Here are some of the other benefits and thoughts:

  • The clay court surface will be as permeable or better than the existing grass in the area.  This means building the clay courts will be a benefit to Bowker creek.   The current grass is mowed by machinery that does deposit small amounts of hydrocarbons in the process, this would no longer happen with the clay courts
  • The proposal calls for some of the most significant improvements to Bowker Creek in a long time with $20,000 in the budget just for restoration work.  Even part of Bowker Creek is in Cedar Hill Park very little has been done by Saanich to change the golf course to improve the creek. 
  • Clay courts can be used in light rain and used when still damp.  This means the clay courts will see more hours of use than the existing outdoor courts in the city.   This will really make a big difference during the shoulder seasons.  It also makes a big difference early in the morning with dew.
  • With the clay courts it becomes possible for Saanich to offer some serious high quality tennis camps in the summer.    It also becomes possible for SD#63 to offer a tennis academy at Reynolds
  • Clay courts are better for older people to play on because the surface is not as hard as the paved courts.   It also allows for a different style of play because the speed of the game is slower.
  • The proposal is coming from a non-profit community group.   In our society it is important to build community and non-profits are an important part of this.   The very creation of this group is bringing people out to do positive things for our society.  These people are dedicating their volunteer time to build this - they are doing that for FREE.  We should rewarding people that add to our community
  • Currently the area is underused.   The softball diamonds sit empty for most of the year and even when they could be in use few people use them.   In many parks ball diamonds are built for the use of non-profits that use them for only about 12 weeks of the year with no access for the public during those times.
  • There will be 12 courts at Cedar Hill park, four indoors and eight outdoors.   This will mean it will be a hub of the tennis community in the region.   Building a stronger and more connected sports community is beneficial to the sport in the whole region.   Victoris could start to become a centre tennis excellence in Canada
  • Saanich's consultation on these tennis courts has been much more inclusive and complete than what they have done for similar proposals elsewhere such as all the changes at Hampton Park
The relationship between Saanich and the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society is a normal one for sports and local government.   The only difference is that the CHCCTS is taking on a lot more of the costs than most other sports organizations.  The costs being charged to be a member of the CHCCTS are roughly comparable to what it costs to be a member of almost any sport within the region.   It is hardly some fancy exclusive club

We have many examples of non-profits operating on municipal properties
  • Minor Hockey, Figure Skating and Speed Skating take up most of the hours at the ice arenas.   Many people in Saanich can not register their kids in Saanich Minor Hockey because there is no space for them because all the possible hours of Pearkes arena are spoken for.
  • The sailboat compound at Gyro Park
  • The lawn bowling club downtown or the one at Hampton Park
  • Cedar Hill Squash Club
  • Little league baseball and softball - the diamonds at Layritz park take up a lot of space.  Also, each little league is allowed a building that they have total control over and never open to the public in each park with a diamond
  • Soccer - at Hampton Park there is a artificial turf field that is not available to the public
  • Scouts have halls at Gyro Park in Saanich and Fireman's Park in Oak Bay
I assume the opposition to the new clay courts will mean we will shortly see a campaign to raze the Cedar Hill Rec Centre because of impacts to Bowker Creek and that there is a non-profit Squash Society operating out of the facility.

For the record:
  • I am not involved with the Cedar Hill Clay Court Tennis Society
  • I am not aware of any close friends involved with the proposal
  • I have not regularly played tennis for 25 years 
  • I have only played on a clay court once, that was in Germany in 1983

State of some our outside courts in this region sucks
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