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TBM tennis club asks to lease town property long-term

Councillor challenges club on 'private property' sign posted at courts

A private tennis club located on town-owned land in Thornbury has asked The Blue Mountains council to support a new long-term lease agreement for the property.

At council’s meeting on March 27, Arnis Pukitis of the Cameron Shores Tennis Club attended as a delegation to request council’s support for the club’s efforts to secure a new long-term lease for town land on Peel Street North.

The club rents one acre of property from the town near the water treatment plant for two courts and a small parking lot. The rental/lease arrangement has been in place with the town since the late 1970s. The tennis courts on the property were built and then maintained over the decades by club members.

“Unfortunately, the courts have been deteriorating for a couple of years now and require resurfacing,” said Pukitis.

The club is seeking a long-term lease in order to ensure it has access to the property for many years before it embarks on an expensive resurfacing or rebuild of the courts.

The rental fee for the property has been $1,100 annually since 1996 and the club has been paying the property taxes ($716 in 2022) for the property. The tennis courts are not used by the public and are open only to club members.

The club’s efforts to date to secure a new lease through conversations with town staff have not been successful, which led to the delegation to council.

The unusual rental arrangement for a piece of town property raised eyebrows around the council table.

“That’s a very good deal for you,” said Coun. June Porter.

Coun. Paula Hope questioned the entire situation.

“I was chagrined to see a 'private property' sign on the courts on town land. How did that happen?” asked Hope, who said as an avid tennis player herself, she was surprised to learn about the Cameron Shores Tennis Club. “Who is welcomed into this tennis club and who is not?”

Pukitis said the “private property” sign is located on the tennis courts themselves - although there is also a “keep out” sign at the entrance to the property. He said currently only club members can use the facility as they are insured. He also noted that the poor state of the court playing surfaces has prevented the club from opening up the courts to more people due to the lack of available playing time.

“We’d like to expand our membership,” he said.

The lack of information and historical documentation on the rental agreement between the town and the tennis club led council to vote 7-0 in favour of requesting a full staff report on the matter.

“We look forward to a staff report so we can take some action in 2023,” said Mayor Andrea Matrosovs.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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