FERGUS ‒ The Fergus Tennis Club has outgrown its current location and is turning to council for help in its hunt for a new space and additional courts.
In its delegation Monday evening, the Fergus Tennis Club (FTC) asked council to consider funding five new outdoor tennis courts and an all-season dome to facilitate year-round use and tournaments, as well as increase court time for both FTC members and the public.
There are currently three outdoor tennis courts at the FTC's main location on Tower Street and two outdoor tennis courts at the Centre Wellington Sportsplex in Fergus.
"I know it's a big ask, but it's a big deal," said FTC president Sheila Hogarth. “We’re currently operating at double capacity, we’re still growing and there’s no room for expansion.”
According to Hogarth, replacing the courts, lights and fencing at the Tower St. location could cost $350,000.
Hogarth said "significant growth" has forced the FTC to cap registration, increased safety and parking concerns, and even forced them to turn people away at times.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary earlier this year, the FTC currently averages 450 members a year and has seen a 36 per cent increase in frequent tennis play over the last two years.
“What we’re hoping to see is to get out there and find some land," said Hogarth. "I know everybody is looking for that and I’m not pretending to know all the answers ... but it’s one acre."
Conducted in 2018, the Centre Wellington Parks, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan spoke to a service level of one court per 5,000 residents.
The 2024 budget currently proposes two new courts in Elora for approximately $180,000.
“The plan to add additional courts elsewhere will not address the FTC’s capacity issue,” said Hogarth. “Disconnected courts dispersed throughout the region does not build a tennis community.”
Presenting two funding options, one suggested an initial investment of $30,000 and selling the Tower Street land in favour of a new one-and-a-half-acre property with space for five courts, parking, and other amenities.
The second proposed the FTC fund the dome while the municipality handles Tower Street court repairs, and building two new courts
“Obviously there’s a lot of moving parts in terms of land and our existing properties," said Mayor Shawn Watters, following the delegation. "(But) you provided us with some really interesting information to take in and look at."
Council will consider the request as part of the 2024 budget process.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.