(Photo: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
BY KELLY ROCHE
Spikes, sets, and sandy knees.
Four premium lit beach volleyball courts will be ready to go at Lakefront Promenade Park next summer after city council approved a motion Wednesday for development of the facility, in time for the 2016 Ontario Summer Games.
An estimated $669,000 will fund the project, expected to be fully operational by spring 2017.
The announcement is “great news” for Tim Ferris.
“Beach facilities have been really scarce in the area,” said Ferris, general manager of Average Joe Sports in Oakville.
The co-ed recreational sports league hosts games and tournaments from Mississauga to Hamilton, and regularly rents various city facilities.
Their go-to location for beach volleyball on Monday nights is the Oakville Entertainment Centrum, at the QEW and Winston Churchill Blvd., where a picnic area in the middle boasts two sand courts.
“Our Monday league has sold out the last three years in a row,” said Ferris, noting up to 1,000 players would be interested in the new courts.
The Lakefront Promenade location – east of Cawthra Rd. along Lakeshore Rd. E. – could very well be a game-changer for suburban residents.
In Toronto, beach volleyball leagues are “just amazing,” Ferris noted.
“It’s just a whole subculture of people,” he said — mainly young professionals who head to the beach right after work.
Given it’s “a social game,” matches are usually followed by outings at local restaurants and bars.
That’s something the city is banking on.
The new waterfront facility will “provide active living opportunities for local residents and will generate sustainable revenue for the city through the management of an adult league, recreational programming and facility rentals for tournaments,” said commissioner of community services Paul Mitcham.
The project was inspired by last summer’s Pan Am Games, and it’s also part of the municipal sport tourism strategy.
Ward 1 Coun. Jim Tovey said the location is ideal due to its existing amenities: Parking, washrooms, a restaurant and food vendors nearby.
Construction is slated to begin before winter and the facility should be ready by June.
Mississauga is hosting the Games in August, with more than 3,500 athletes from across the province competing in two dozen sports.