Tennis Canada will get $2.5 million from HRM to build a year-round tennis development centre at the Bedford Commons—though whether it's actually needed is a matter of some debate.
A staff recommendation approved by city council on Tuesday will serve up the $2.5 million over the next three years to fund the proposed Nova Scotia Regional Tennis Development Centre.
Halifax will cover a third of the $7.5 million in funding needed for the facility, joined by equal amounts from the province and funds raised by Tennis Canada through corporate sponsorship, private donations and the selling of naming rights.
But there was concern at city hall that tennis is too ‘elite’ of a sport for HRM to be spending millions of dollars funding—an accusation strongly rebuked by some councillors.
“You need a ball and two rackets and a hard surface,” said Stephen Adams. “A net is helpful.”
“Tennis might have been considered elite at one time,” said Gloria McCluskey. “So was golf.”
Councillor Bill Karsten, meanwhile, was more concerned about how HRM keeps repeatedly granting these one-off, large-scale funding requests.
“It’s not sustainable,” Karsten told his colleagues. “We have, what, two or three today? It’s not sustainable for us to have a wide, open-door policy.”
The recently-opened Daniel Nestor Tennis Centre in Bedford will be taken over by Tennis Canada and expanded under the new plan. Its six indoor clay courts will be joined by an additional four to six international-sized hard courts, two additional outdoor clay courts and anywhere between two to five outdoor children’s courts.
The municipality has been working with Tennis Nova Scotia and Tennis Canada on the idea since 2011. Staff write that the funding model will open the centre up to use for municipal programs, and the lack of membership fee will allow access for schools and community-not-for-profits.
“If we want tennis to have a real chance to be broadly available to all citizens,” said mayor Mike Savage, “we do need to have this kind of facility.”
The motion to fund the new centre eventually passed 17-love. Tennis Canada predicts the expanded facility could be completed by December of 2018.