Almost half of the city's tennis courts will cease operation following a council vote Monday night.
City council voted to stop maintaining 29 of the municipality's 63 courts following a staff report on their usage and cost of upkeep.
The courts slated for closure are at Clearwood Park, Harwin Elementary, Malaspina Park, Quinson Elementary, South Fort Family Resource Centre, Van Bien Elementary, Vanway Elementary, Westwood Elementary, Eaglenest Park, Fairburn Park and Fort George Park (Gyro).
Three courts located at the now-defunct Central Fort George elementary school were also pegged for closure, but Coun. Garth Frizzell proposed that they be kept in play.
He cited the courts there and at Eaglenest Park as having a case for being kept open, since they required relatively little capital investment ($2,550 each) and were the two most-used courts on the list of those to be discontinued.
Operations superintendent Bill Gaal said the Eaglenest courts were in close proximity to courts at DP Todd secondary and Lac Du Bois.
But Frizzell, whose amendment was supported by Coun. Brian Skakun, said the removal Central Fort George from operation would leave surrounding areas with no court to call their own.
"By maintaining one, which is the least cost of all the others to maintain, we keep equity all across the city, or as close as we can," Frizzell said. "I think there's a value to maintaining Central Fort George and there's very little cost to it compared to the other maintenance projects."
Council narrowly supported Frizzell's amendment by a 5-4 vote.
Closing tennis courts was a recommendation that first came forward during the core services review process. A July suggestion from staff outlined $18,000 in maintenance costs that could be avoided by closing 21 courts.
At the time, council asked for more information, as staff said they had not tracked usage nor consulted with community associations or the school district about the proposal.
This summer city staff tracked usage at the courts over a two-week period and compiled a list of the necessary rehabilitation work and associated costs at the 63 sites. About $118,550 in capital would be required to upgrade the remaining 34 courts.
Mayor Shari Green said she would rather see fewer facilities that are well maintained than attempt to keep up with the aging infrastructure that no longer sees the activity it once did.
"We have a lot of things in this community that we've built over the years and we have been challenged over time to meet the needs of everyone across the board to the best of our ability," Green said. "The funds just haven't been there to be all of these things to all of these community members."
City manager Beth James said staff would be happy to add a master park strategy to next year's work plan.