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Pickleballers sour on user fees, salty on court conditions

Pickleball user fees will be waived for now while the City of North Bay determines when up to $100,000 worth of enhancements will take place at Bourke Playground
File photo of the pickleball courts at Bourke Playground slated for $100,000 worth of enhancements.

Dave Saad, representing local pickleball players, told a committee of North Bay City Council he could paint lines on the asphalt in front of his house and achieve similar pickleball court conditions to what the City of North Bay has been offering at Bourke Playground.

Chris Derochie, a member of the executive of the North Bay Pickleball Club later expressed to the committee that for the growing group of players "it is like playing in a parking lot," with the present court conditions.

This matter-of-fact approach to public presentations must have caught the attention of local politicians as they agreed to leave the proposed pickleball user fee matter at the committee level while a schedule is determined for the pickleball court enhancements at Bourke Playground. There is $100,000 earmarked in the 2024 capital budget.

Derochie, who addressed the committee alongside fellow member Luis Catalao, made it clear the club has no issue with the proposed user fee but objects to paying it before a new playing surface with proper lining is installed.

Saad spoke at length during Monday's meeting about the shortcomings of the current facilities and how pleased he and other local pickleballers are in anticipation of the upcoming improvements of the municipal courts in Bourke Playground.

On the other hand, Saad objected to what he called a "lack of consultation," between the City of North Bay and the user groups.

"I've never paid to play on a public court," Saad complained about the user fee structure for organized pickleball bookings at the Bourke Playground. For both community and league play, a rental fee of $16 for a three-hour block on two courts is recommended. Of the $16, $4 will go to operating costs and $12 to the C.R.F. (Community Reinvestment Fund).

"How are you going to police this?" Saad later asked.

There will be no policing of user fees necessary — at least for the time being — as the committee determines the next step for local pickleball.

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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