CANMORE – Plans to expand and refurbish the tennis courts in Lions Park will not move ahead in 2019 after the Canmore Tennis Association was unable to secure provincial funding.
The province recently informed the tennis association that its grant application for $362,000 was unsuccessful leaving the future of the project in limbo.
“There were no deficiencies or shortcomings in our application, rather it was the overwhelming demand for large grants that the government had relative to the money they had available,” said George Crookshank, president of the association during its annual general meeting last Thursday (May 2).
“Without grant funding the project will not occur in 2019.”
Last year, council approved $400,000 in its 2019-20 budget to help pay for half of the capital project if the tennis association was successful in its bid to leverage provincial funding.
The plan envisioned adding two additional tennis courts and upgrading all five courts to regulation size. The project was also incorporated four pickle ball courts into the design.
Without provincial funding, Crookshank said the tennis association now has three options, including giving up on the project, applying for grant funding using the same application, or scaling back the project and asking for less money.
From his perspective he said the best option would be to scale back the project and only add one tennis court.
“There was $78 million worth of applications and only $10 million available, so we could do this again, but the probability of being successful I’d say is less than 50 per cent and if we are unsuccessful again I think the project will drop off the table and there will be a loss of momentum,” said Crookshank.
By considering a smaller project with four regulation size courts instead of five, he said the project would cost considerably less and allow the association to apply for a smaller grant, increasingly the likelihood it would be successful.
“With the small grant you can apply for up to $125,000, however there’s $28 million dollars available,” said Crookshank. “The chances of us succeeding I think are pretty good.”
If the board decides to go this route, he said the association will file its grant application in September and find out if they are successful in November.
“The requirement to proceed on this alternative confirms that the funding from the Town will still be available for this smaller project,” said Crookshank.
If the association is successful, the project will have to be redesigned and approved by council before it can move ahead.
During the discussion several members asked about whether the tennis association had considered adding a bubble so the tennis courts can be used year round.
Crookshank said it was brought up during the planning stage, however the cost to build and operate it would be too expensive.
“It’s worth a discussion, but I know from the Town’s perspective the presence of a lit bubble on that court would not be met with open arms from the neighbours,” said Crookshank.
Currently the tennis association sends 75 per cent of its revenue to the Town to use the courts and calculated that over a 20-year period it would be equal to repaying the Town for its $400,000 investment.
As part of the larger revitalization of Lions Park, the Town already earmarked $467,000 to replace and relocate the aging playground structure and intended to remove the baseball diamond to make room for the tennis courts.