Author: A. Furtado, Citizen Journalist
Tennis courts may be the name of the game, but for Central Saanich taxpayers, the score could be ‘love’ when they see the price tag. According to Rosalyn Tanner, Director of Financial Services for Central Saanich, construction costs are expected to reach $798,800. This amount is more than triple the original budget set in 2006, when the council of the day allotted $262,000 for replacement costs. The initial plan was to replace the existing two tennis courts at Centennial Park in their original location. The project was deferred however, pending a consultant’s redesign of the entire Centennial Park.
When the new design was completed, the plan included moving the tennis courts to a new location across the street from Centennial Park on the corner of Wallace Drive and Hovey Road. In February 2010, the present council approved the relocation and this decision added $428,000 to the previous council’s $262,000, for a new budget of $690,000. In September 2010, funding was approved and the contract was awarded to Saanichton Developments Ltd.
The project began the following month. During excavation, the contractor discovered a buried boat trailer, a decommissioned well and other surprises that changed the scope of the work. The land required remediation and costs escalated a further $108,000. A memo from Bonnie McKenzie, Manager of Community Services, stated “…the actual requirements could not have been predicted until the work was underway.” On January 10, 2011, Council approved a final total budget of $798,800 and authorized staff to create the necessary borrowing documents.
Councillor Ron Kubek, Parks and Facilities Committee Chair and Panorama Recreation Commission member, was asked what Council’s reasons were for relocating the tennis courts. Mr. Kubek informed Saanich Voice Online, that due to the new “Media Relations Policy” which Council unanimously passed in June, councillors are no longer allowed to speak to the media on behalf of Council and all inquiries must be directed to the Mayor. Mayor Mar responded by saying, “The biggest reasons to move them across the street was because of the tree roots and the shade.”
In addition to the three new tennis courts at Centennial Park, tennis players on the Peninsula can find an outdoor tennis court in Saanichton behind Thrifty Foods, six tennis courts in North Saanich and three tennis courts in Sidney. Panorama Recreation also has two outdoor tennis courts and four indoor tennis courts. Eric Knoester, Tennis & Racquet Coordinator for Panorama Recreation acknowledges that it is difficult to track the demand for outdoor tennis, but he believes that, “On the peninsula there is a shortage of tennis courts.”
Knoester is delighted that Central Saanich decided to take on this project and the design plans for the new courts are hanging on the wall, outside his office door. He explains that when he initially spoke to Central Saanich Council, he encouraged them to build “a legacy facility” that they could be proud of. Knoester also serves as a primary consultant for the new courts, advising Small & Rossell Landscape Architects on the design. He states that these courts are “one of the highest technically built courts in the city.”
Adrian Woods, President of Saanichton Developments Ltd. also believes that these tennis courts are unlike any other. He explains the new courts have a “park-like setting” and offer a variety of amenities such as ponds, peripheral landscaping, a practice wall and more. “This tennis court is designed like the Taj Mahal-there is no other tennis court like it.”
While enjoying a game of tennis on the original court at Centennial Park, recreational players Michael and Carole Steele offered their opinion on the new tennis courts. “All they had to do to this court was paint the lines, which have been neglected forever.” There are some uneven surfaces, but “this just makes the game more interesting.” The Steeles have been playing tennis at Centennial Park for six years and do not recall ever waiting to use a court. “There are just not that many people using them,” says Michael. Although this project will only increase the number of tennis courts by one, overall they like the idea of an extra court, because they believe people should get outdoors and exercise more. Michael laughs, “Maybe more people will come out and play to get their tax dollars back.”
At this time, the budget remains at $798,800. However, the final amount will not be known until after the project is completed, which is scheduled for July, 2011.