Okotokians were given a good look at the efforts to get a pickleball centre built in town last week.

On Thursday, May 10, the Okotoks Pickleball and Tennis Centre held an open house to reveal their plans around the facility's design and fundraising.

The non-profit group is working to raise $5 million of the $10 million budget for the pickleball and tennis facility planned to be built on the north end of town near Meadow Ridge School, with the facility itself operating as a non-profit.

The group’s president, Ryan Sawatzky explains why now was the time they wanted to reveal all this information.

“We were always wanting to do an open house, and  we thought “Well, it’d be good to do an open house, but if we had some sort of a kicker,’ and then the Kirsten Anderson/David Keith donation came up and we thought ‘Well this is just perfect, we can staple that onto an open house and that’ll become the main reason for meeting, really.’”

The donation from Kirsten Anderson and David Kieth is a $500,000 matching fund made by the couple.

The fund will match personal donations for double the amount and will match corporate donations dollar-for-dollar.

Anderson’s name will be familiar to any local pickleball enthusiasts, with her father Bob having had a set of pickleball courts in Okotoks named after him.

“Kisten was raised here in Okotoks with her family and met David Keith from Calgary, who started a carbon capture company that blossomed into something large… When he sold his company, they parked some money aside that they wanted to use for philanthropic purposes, this is the first chunk of money that they've ever given away. We, I believe, struck a chord with Kirsten and the family because of the connection to pickleball and her dad, who was an avid pickleball player who passed away a couple of years ago,” says Sawatzky.

It has a deadline of January 2025, so the group is looking to maximize it while they can.

Attendees of the open house were given an idea of some of the amenities planned for the facility, including 12 outdoor courts, 12 indoor courts, two outdoor tennis courts, a restaurant and bar, a player lounge, and grandstand seating.

PickleballAmong those in attendance was Okotoks Mayor Tanya Thorn.

A timeline was also provided, with development and building permitting underway, and a projected construction timeline of fall of 2025 for Phase I, and summer of 2026 for Phase II.

A short-term fundraising goal of $2.5 million has been set to fund Phase I, which will include the indoor courts.

The open house saw an estimated 200 attendees, and thanks to some generous donations made on the night of the event, Sawatzky says they’re well on the way.

“It’s pushing $300,000 with the matching, so that’s an incredible start.”

Other sources include provincial and federal grants, and a fundraising event planned for August 3, which will include live music and a silent auction.

Anyone looking to volunteer or donate can find contact information on the newly launched website, okptc.ca