Nova Scotia

Barefoot mayor serves up new volleyball courts

Mayor Mike Savage opened 12 brand-new beach volleyball courts Friday — in the Burnside Industrial Park.

Burnside to host Volleyball Beach Atlantic Championships

Mike Savage serves during an impromptu match Friday. (CBC)

Mayor Mike Savage opened 12 brand-new beach volleyball courts Friday in the Burnside Industrial Park.

"It offers a place not just to play beach volleyball, but a place for young athletes to have fun and develop their skills," he said.

He and several council colleagues — including Gloria McCluskey, who's well into her 80s — then doffed their shoes and took to the damp courts for a quick game against members of Team Nova Scotia.

The hundreds of tons of sand were used two years ago during the World Juniors tournament held on the Halifax waterfront. The World Juniors event drew 15,000 fans and generated an estimated $3 million for the city.

Burnside best location

The sand was saved and trucked to the new site.

"Oh, it's an amazing logistical challenge. I believe we had about 65 tractor trailers full of sand," said Derek Martin, president of Sports and Entertainment Atlantic.

Between ten to twelve sites were considered, from Point Pleasant Park to Shubie Park. Burnside had the space, plus parking and an enclosed fence.

"You need a flat area, you need an area that's not particularly windy, so it's sheltered. It's nice if it's an area that's not a residential area. Then you're not bothering people," said David Swetnam, president of Volleyball Nova Scotia.

Championships in August

Players agreed it was a good choice.

"I don't think it's too much out of the way. I thought it would be when I first heard it would be in Burnside, but seeing the courts and being here is definitely great," said Anna Dunn-Suen of Team Nova Scotia.

Teammate Hillary Monette agreed.

"It's going to give us a better opportunity to have courts that we have access to, because we've trained at many places but we had to bring our own nets and stuff and set them up. This way it's easier, it's already set up for us," she said.

Team practices will keep the courts busy all summer. The facility will also hold summer programs for the public to promote beach volleyball.

The next big event is the Volleyball Beach Atlantic Championships in mid-August.

The province, Volleyball Nova Scotia and HRM each contributed $100,000 towards the project.