Community member urges Centre Wellington council to reconsider tennis deal

FERGUS – After a citizen delegation, Centre Wellington council is reconsidering a new 10-year agreement with the Fergus Tennis Club for use of courts on Tower Street and at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.

The previous agreement expired on Dec. 31. 

“It is desirous by both parties to renew this agreement and continue this partnership,” stated Patricia Newson, managing director of community services, in her report to council at the March 18 committee of the whole meeting.

The township owns the tennis courts at the corner of Tower Street South and Union Street West, but the Fergus Tennis Club is responsible for operating the facility. 

The township also owns the tennis courts at the sportsplex, which are open to Fergus Tennis Club members and the general public.

“The agreement permits the Fergus Tennis Club to have exclusive use of the sportsplex courts at designated times for their members,” Newson wrote in her report. 

She outlined a few changes to the agreement from the previous 10-year pact. 

Under the new agreement, the club will be charged $250 annually for hydro. 

“In the original agreement it had talked about the club being charged for the hydro expenses to the courts,” Newson told council on March 18.  

“Unfortunately there’s no separate metre to those courts so we couldn’t track that so there was no payment actually received.”

The second change is the tennis club’s scheduled use of the sportsplex court will begin at 7pm instead of 8pm, as outlined in the expired agreement. 

“Back in 2017 township staff and the tennis group met and made that change so that has actually been in practice the last two years and we used the opportunity of renewing the agreement to reflect that change,” Newson said.

The agreement also shifts the cost of court maintenance at the sportsplex more heavily onto the township. In the expired agreement the maintenance costs were covered 50/50. 

In the new agreement the township will take on 75 per cent, with the club responsible for 25%. 

“This … matches the arrangement for shared responsibilities that exists at the Tower Street courts,” Newson wrote. 

Resident and Fergus Tennis Club member Silvana Sangiuliano appeared as a delegation on March 18 to  voice concerns about the club’s delivery of programs, equitable court access and conflicts on the courts. 

She said the club’s Wednesday court pre-booking as well as other evenings and weekends during prime times “infringes on both the general public’s rights of use and those of the members not involved in pre-booked activities.” 

Sangiuliano added the club seems to book the courts less than four weeks in advance, as the agreement states it should. 

“The fact that notices are being put up either the week of, the day of, during the event or not at all, confirms the lack of proper notice and the four-week notice clause in the agreement is not being adhered to,” she said. 

With club’s programming and pre-booking, Sangiuliano said demand at the sportsplex is greater because both members and the general public are competing for the openings. 

She requested the club adhere to its guidelines and policy. 

The agreement was referred to the Community Services Advisory Committee for a recommendation to a future committee of the whole meeting.