Pickleball players will be able to raise their paddles and play inside Victoria’s Crystal Garden, thanks to two courts being installed there in the new year, according to the city.
The city says the pickleball courts will be inside the historic building, located on Douglas Street and operated by the Victoria Conference Centre, from Jan. 9 to Feb. 18, 2024, in a temporary installation as part of the OUR DWTN revitalization program.
Victoria Regional Pickleball Association (VRPA) president Connie McCann says pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in Canada, so she’s applauding the city’s decision to bring it to Crystal Garden so more people can play.
This past summer, the association had about 680 members, and several South Island municipalities even launched a pickleball strategy to address players’ needs.
“Pickleball in Beacon Hill Park has been a resounding success, and we expect local and visiting players will embrace playing in the Crystal Garden as well,” said McCann.
Crystal Garden, known for its glass roof, opened in 1925 to house a large, indoor saltwater swimming pool, but the pool closed in 1971, and the building was transformed into a tropical conservatory, the province says. By 2004, the building was renovated again and turned into a conference space.
“There’s no pickleball courts in a more beautiful place in the world,” said VRPA board member Judy Langford, marvelling at the space.
“This is unbelievable.”
The city says the pop-up event aligns with its Strategic Plan priority to enhance supports and amenities for recreational, youth and professional sports in B.C.’s capital.
“Everyone is welcome to register to play, from seasoned athletes to casual players,” the city said in a news release Monday.
Pickleball has been a hot topic in Victoria in recent years, and in 2022, McCann questioned the city’s decision to ban the sport from Todd Park in James Bay.
On April 1, 2022, pickleballers were banned from the park because the courts there were only 17 metres away from homes, and residents complained about the noise. This surprised McCann and other players, who said they were only trying to stay active and have fun.
“We had no idea that we were causing anybody any harm,” Paul Fitzgerald told CHEK News at the time, while McCann laughed, calling it “a pickle-brawl.”
The sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis, and players use paddles and hollow, plastic balls that are known to make noise.
So local pickleballers had to head to Central Park or Oakland Park to play, and eventually, temporary courts opened in Beacon Hill Park. A list of court locations across Greater Victoria is on the association’s website here.
The courts at Crystal Garden, meanwhile, “will be available for a mix of drop-in times, court reservations and registered programs,” the city added in the release.
Registration for pickleball at Crystal Garden opens at noon on Thursday, Dec. 14, and more information can be found on the city’s website.