More cricket and pickleball coming to Whitby as part of Parks and Rec master plan


Published May 30, 2023 at 5:33 pm


Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy says more cricket and pickleball facilities are coming to town as part of the new Master Plan to meet the evolving needs of an increasingly diverse community.

Roy recently sat down with Insauga founder and publisher Khaled Iwamura to discuss the goings on in town including the ongoing Pumphouse pop-up project, her continued wait for a meeting with the Ontario government to discuss Whitby’s hospital, and the strength of Durham Region’s unity.

Part of the discussion involved the ongoing process to develop a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. After months of community feedback, town staff recently presented their findings to council.

They found 92 per cent of respondents felt new Parks and Rec facilities and programs should be a “high priority” for Whitby. In approaching this priority Roy said, “need to give recognition to how Whitby has changed and the diversity of Whitby has changed.”

She also noted the town has to “start thinking outside of the box” about how they can support these projects given the changes under Ontario’s Bill 23 housing strategy. The bill slashes development fees paid by private developers. These fees were often earmarked for infrastructure projects, and without them, Ontario municipalities need to find new funding avenues for such projects.

Roy herself previously railed against the bill calling the changes “unacceptable.” With the province standing by the bill, Whitby has gotten creative to address the funding gaps. They’re pursuing a partnership with Durham’s public and Catholic school boards to share the load of parks funding as many of the parks but up on school property, Roy said.

She also mentioned the importance of the Whitby Sports Complex which is currently accepting offers from developers. The complex has been hotly demanded by Whitby residents, with 80 per cent of survey respondents voicing strong positive feelings for a new facility. Roy said it was the most feedback the town has received for any project they’ve done. “That has driven why we need to have this Parks and Recreation Plan,” she said.

When complete the complex will feature the largest pool in Durham Region, a two-ice pad arena, a skate park, a cycling track, and pickleball, tennis, and basketball courts. Pickleball is particular “has become a huge ask” according to Roy as has cricket.

“I have had multiple conversations just about cricket and learning about cricket,” Roy said. The sport has long been a minor one in Canada, despite a notable Canadian victory in the first international cricket game in 1844 against the United States.

However, cricket is astronomically popular abroad, particularly in India and and the rest of South Asia. The Cricket World Cup is the third most viewed sporting event in the world, behind only the Tour de France and the Fifa World Cup of Soccer, with 2.6 billion viewers last year. This dwarfs the Super Bowls 113 million viewers, while the Stanley Cup playoffs don’t even crack the top 16, per Road Trips.

While still underappreciated in Canada, cricket has grown in popularity over recent years with Oshawa and Whitby announcing temporary facilities last year ahead of the construction of permanent pitches. The move came as a result of significant lobbying from the Whitby Cricket Club, which has pushed for facilities for years.

Ajax, home to Durham’s largest South Asian population, has also carved out space for cricket pitches. Further afield, Brampton has been eying a $35 million cricket stadium for years. The cricket discussion in particular, Roy said, it was essential in serving the changing Whitby community.

She also stressed the importance of accommodating and increasingly older population and noted Whitby’s seniors are among the largest boosters for more recreation options in town. “Our seniors are very active,” she said noting they want to be able to walk, ride and and play in town. Pickleball is especially popular among the senior population and widely acclaimed as a low impact sport.

However, Roy herself has only tried out cricket of the two newly embraced sports, “but I’m a golfer,” she said, “so my swing went way back and I may have hit the wicket. But I’m looking forward in terms of cricket. I’ve been arranging with our cricket community and we are going to host in July our first Mayor’s Cup.”


indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising