Prince Edward Pickleball group preparing for dedicated facility

IN A PICKLE- Picton Pickleball Club members Gerry Drennan and Wilma Stevens participate in a game at the Benson Park courts in 2019. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

There’s some pep in the step of local pickleballers in Prince Edward County thanks to a new advocacy group leading the charge for dedicated courts of play.

Prince Edward Pickleball (PEP) is a community-based, volunteer group designated as a “Project of Community Interest” by the Corporation of Prince Edward County in April 2022 and is driving the fundraising efforts to build a half dozen new dedicated pickleball courts in Picton.

PEP is spearheaded by the Executive Committee: Stephanie Roth Chairperson; Bev Humphrey Vice Chair; Stacey Dort Vice Chair; Angela Adams Treasurer; Wendy Murphy Secretary.

PEP executive for 2023. (Submitted photo)

Pickleball is a lively and addictive court sport combining the elements of ping pong, tennis and badminton. It’s wildly popular because it can be played by people of all ages,  easy to learn, and inclusive to all. 

“The construction of new courts will allow our community members of every age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and physical ability to come together, be healthy, have fun, and support our local businesses,” said Chair Roth.

The sport has experienced exponential growth across North America with staggering statistics. Pickleball Canada’s executive director Carla Anderson noted the sport’s social qualities, affordability and accessibility have pushed participation from 350,000 across the country a year ago to more than a million now. 

“Global acclaim and excitement for the sport of Pickleball has grown rampant in recent years, with (Pickleball Canada) membership in Canada alone growing 40 per cent since last December,” said Peter Milovanovic, Pickleball Canada President. “With high profile celebrities and brands investing and a surging membership base, here is no more lucrative sponsorship opportunity in Canadian amateur sport right now.”

Local growth figures in Prince Edward County mirror the national trends. The Picton Recreation Committee, who oversees Pickleball play in Picton, offered its first “Intro to Pickleball Clinic” in 2021 for people looking to learn about the game.

This was quickly fully booked, holding 32 participants plus a waitlist. Based on the overwhelming demand, the 2022 Intro Clinic was doubled in size to accommodate 64 participants and still there was a waitlist of interested future players 

Pickleball offers many health benefits serving a wide range of physical abilities and ages. It can be played at a recreational or competitive level, so it’s adaptable to each player. 

While the local recreational ranks seem to be busting at the seems, some competitive players are sourced from Prince Edward County. West Bloomfield’s Barry Matthie was part of a winning mixed pairs entry at the 2019 National Championships held in Kingston that year.

According to PEP, pickleball’s revolving and intergenerational play is great for emotional and mental health too, reducing depression, loneliness & isolation.

The sport is highly valuable to our local business community and the committee said sales of sporting goods and  attire as well as post-game stops at restaurants, pubs, breweries and wineries will bolster the economy. The opportunity for local, regional and provincial tournaments will also serve the entire tourism industry by bringing people here to stay in The County for events.

PEP is currently finalizing their Partnership Agreement with the Municipality while they prepare their Parks and Recreation Master Plan which will guide the future direction of recreational facilities and services in Prince Edward County. 

This begins with their Public Engagement efforts, including an online survey and public consultation sessions.

PEP is in the process of identifying and applying for grant opportunities, spreading awareness of the project via grassroots, local media outlets and social media, while crafting a fundraising plan including a Recognition Framework for donors. 

“We are off to an impressive start with $30,000 already earmarked for construction by a generous supporter,” Roth added.

Currently PEP is asking for financial supporters to help make this worthwhile project possible.

To discuss fundraising collaborations, volunteer your skills, or to be added to the mailing list, PEP can be reached at

The group will be offering Pickleball Skill Development Clinics in June 2023 as a part of our fundraising efforts, and invite everyone to stay tuned to their social feed for further details.