Official word came down today in support of Cochrane's vibrant pickleball community that will bear fruit for the entire town.

The Cochrane Pickleball Club has been awarded $997,287 from the Alberta government's Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) toward a $2.2 million pickleball court development in Greystone.

There will be 20 pickleball courts, including two regulation-sized courts for those with physical disabilities, possibly the first of their kind in Canada. There will also be washroom facilities and parking.

Joanne Ferster, vice-president of the Cochrane Pickleball Club, salutes the team of people who have worked hard on completing the detailed application.

"We had a team of people to do the grant and we have a team of people that are following the construction and working with Greystone with the construction of the court."

They received letters of support from over 133 local businesses, over 300 residents as well as those from local MP Blake Richards and local MLA Peter Guthrie.

She received word of the funding in time for it to be a pre-Christmas surprise that sent her over the moon. She says Greystone officials were anxious to get word and are thrilled that the project will proceed.

Greystone played a huge role in making the funding possible by contributing the $1 million in matching funds required.

"Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America and people actually move their home to a location that has a pickleball facility. Greystone was very excited about having this and said that they would match our funds, which is a requirement for a CFEP large funding grant."

With only four pickleball courts on the east end of town plus use of an adjacent tennis court, the club was seeking a spot for additional courts to meet the high demand and accommodate the widespread interest in the sport.

"We were exploring our options and then Greystone development came to us and asked us about possibly doing something there," says Ferster. "It worked out just absolutely perfectly. It's great for the town because Greystone will operate the facility for the first two years and then the facility goes back to the town."

Besides meeting local demands, the courts will open the door to possibly hosting championships that draw large crowds. It's ideally located right across the street from a future hotel and is in close proximity to the SLS Centre.

"We're hoping to do nationals or regionals there and that'll bring a ton of money into the Town of Cochrane. You get probably 900 participants and spectators, so there's a lot of people wanting hotel stays and restaurants, etcetera. It's a great financial boon for the Town of Cochrane."

Many consider pickleball a sport for older people, but that's far from the case.

She says the sport is an excellent form of exercise for all ages, helps develop hand-eye coordination and great way to engage socially.

"It's sport that can be played by a huge age group, large range of abilities, and it's cheap."

The local club has been working with schools in introducing the sport to local youth and to incorporate it into their curriculum.

If all the necessary paperwork is in place, the goal is to break ground in May and have it finished by the end of the 2024 pickleball season. 

This morning, Tanya Fir, Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Woman, announced the awarding of over $42 million in CFEP grant dollars for the 271 non-profit organizations to upgrade, expand, renovate and build new community spaces.

“Investments in key spaces in our communities not only support new activities and programming but uplift residents and build stronger communities," said Fir in a morning press conference. "Our government’s investment recognizes the critical role we can play in enhancing local community spaces where many Albertans come together, from hockey rinks and playgrounds to libraries and museums.”

Several other grants were awarded for Cochrane area initiatives.

  • Cochrane and Area Human Society, $655,806 for a facility upgrade
  • Cochrane BMX Association, $28,500 for site redevelopment
  • Cochrane Track and Field Association, $14,143 for facility upgrade
  • Frank Wills Memorial Society, $56,915 for upgrades to the Frank Wills Community Hall
  • Easter Seals Alberta Society, $38,389 for upgrades to the main hall of Camp Horizon
  • Springbank Park for All Seasons Agricultural Society, $125,000 for facility upgrade.

The province increased CFEP funding by 23 per cent in 2023. Its small stream supports smaller projects with up to $125,000, while the CFEP large stream supports projects with funding from $125,000 up to $1 million.

CFEP requires matching funding that is equal to or exceeds the funding amount provided by the province.