Pickleball has finally put down permanent roots east of the Seymour River in North Vancouver, delighting fans of the fast-growing, accessible and social sport.
This summer, the District of North Vancouver opened permanent, dedicated pickleball courts at two Seymour locations, with four courts going into Little Cates Park, and two courts finding a fixed home in Myrtle Park.
The new pickleball patches are welcome news to Seymour-area players who previously needed to drive to Mahon Park or Murdo Frazer Park – braving bridge and highway traffic to do so – to find a spot to play on dedicated outdoor courts. Previously, the other option was bringing their own nets and carving space out of tennis courts or practice areas, but it’s a relief to have their own dedicated spaces now, said Karen Wilson, vice-president of the North Shore Pickleball Club and a frequent player at Little Cates.
“We’re very grateful to have these courts and we love them,” she said. “The thing we really wanted was permanent nets. We wanted to walk up and play…. I like that we don’t have to set our nets up every time we go down, and put them away. It’s beautiful, they’re beautifully done.
"It is a nice location," she added. "You have the ocean there, you’ve got the trees. It’s very pretty.”
It’s also saved the Seymour players that drive to Mahon or Murdo Frazer.
“Everybody knows what the traffic is like in North Vancouver coming down the cut,” Wilson said. “Nobody leaves [Deep] Cove after one o’clock in the afternoon for fear they won’t get back home for three hours.”
Pickleball is a popular and fast-growing sport, but it is not without detractors. Neighbours often complain about the loud “poc” sound that the paddles make when they hit the ball, and tennis players often get rankled by the crowds of pickleball players threatening their dedicated spaces.
Little Cates was the site of an infamous dustup in 2021, with more than 50 tennis players staging a sit-in to protest the district’s plans to paint multi-lined courts to be shared by tennis and pickleball players. Following that “kerfuffle,” as Wilson called it, the district scrapped those plans, and about a year later Little Cates was finally ready to play with the sports separated from each other. Pickleball now has four courts of its own at Little Cates, while the number of tennis courts at the facility dropped from four to two, but the tennis practice area was given back to the tennis group after years of use for pickleball.
The court space at Myrtle Park served as a makeshift pickleball spot for years, but this summer two dedicated courts opened up, giving the sport a permanent home in Deep Cove.
West Vancouver is also in the midst of some pickleball politics. The district currently has four temporary, dedicated pickleball courts in play at Normanby Park, after complaints from neighbours prompted the closure of courts in a more residential area at 29th Street and Marine Drive. A proposal to build four dedicated pickleball courts in Hugo Ray Park is currently in the works, with the district holding public consultations this summer to pick a favoured location inside the park. Players are hoping to have the plan come before district council soon, Wilson said.
There is a need for even more courts across the North Shore, she said, adding that there are often several players waiting on the sidelines for a chance to play at many of the courts across the region, particularly on busy weekends, but also sometimes on weekdays. On a recent sunny weekday afternoon, there were 30 players out at the new Little Cates courts, Wilson said.
“There’s four courts, 16 people playing – that means there’s 14 people on the sidelines, waiting to play.”