The general growth of pickleball across North America has caused inevitable frictions with other sports and in the case of North Saanich, residents near the courts concerned about noise. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

The general growth of pickleball across North America has caused inevitable frictions with other sports and in the case of North Saanich, residents near the courts concerned about noise. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

North Saanich looks into locking up pickleball courts after hours

Neighbour concerned about noise coming from courts questions idea

North Saanich could end up placing timed locks on the pickleball courts in the community, but one resident says it won’t deal with noise coming from the courts.

David Bentley lives next to the public courts on the Wain Road and has concern with the “noise issue” stemming from the courts.

He made that comment after council voted 4-2 to with Couns. Heather Gartshore and Murray Weisenberger opposed to investigate the costs of placing timed locks on the courts after Coun. Brett Smyth noted courts remain in use beyond posted hours – exacerbating noise concerns.

The courts are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Friday, Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. They used to be open from dawn to dusk before the municipality posted the new hours in response to noise concerns that nonetheless appear unresolved.

Bentley, who can see the courts from his backyard, but also plays pickleball himself, has been a leading voice among area residents concerned about the noise coming from the courts.

Corine Reid, president of the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association, said the association is thrilled North Saanich has put up the courts. “It’s really up to them to deal with the neighbours,” she said.

“It’s North Saanich’s issue with their neighbours,” added Helen Brandon of the association. “It has nothing to do with us.” When asked about the possibility of timed gates, Brandon said the association has no choice but to respect the municipality’s decision with Reid promising that association members would follow any future changes.

The initiative from Smyth marks the latest development in the public debate over the impact of pickleball on public noise levels.

Like in other parts of the province, Canada and North America, the sport has experienced a boom on the Saanich Peninsula because of its accessibility, as well as its health and social benefits. Accordingly, municipalities have responded by supplying facilities, either by modifying existing sporting facilities such as tennis courts or creating pickleball courts like the four on Wain Road that North Saanich spent $150,000 to build.

The money came from the general amenity contribution fund not from taxpayer revenue, according Rebecca Penz, North Saanich’s manager of communications.

The general growth of pickleball across North America has caused inevitable frictions with other sports (especially tennis) and in the case of North Saanich, residents near the courts concerned about noise as well as the lack of public consultation.

RELATED: Pickleball gets a boost in North Saanich

The summer of last year saw several meetings featuring many or all of the involved parties: various council members including Mayor Geoff Orr, municipal staff, residents living near the facility and the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association. Potential solutions proposed by staff included the use of acoustic fencing, the use of ‘quiet’ pickleballs as well as a rejected staff proposal to limit play to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during daylight hours, a proposal that drew opposition from various voices, including the pickleball association.

A council sub-committee eventually recommended the current hours for the public facility, which council unanimously approved. Council also instructed staff to include a message calling on users not to use courts outside of the posted hours to minimize the impact on neighbours.

But the issue did not disappear as council received a petition in November that criticized the decision and accused it of being too deferential toward pickleball players. Council subsequently asked staff in early December to report back to council in November 2021 following a review of feedback from residents and pickle ball players, as well as previous staff report.

A motion by Smyth to investigate claims that players have been using the courts beyond the posted hours failed by a vote of 4-2 with Gartshore questioning the evidence of that claim. Orr – who had earlier asked for a more civil discourse around this issue – reminded that public that the question of whether to lock the courts and their use after hours are related.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula