North Saanich dog owners concerned proposed pickleball courts could replace popular off-leash park

CHEK

Dog owners and North Saanich residents are concerned a popular off-leash dog park in the area will be taken over by proposed pickleball courts.

The district is considering adding some new courts to the area as the sport continues to grow.

A staff report outlines eight possible prioritized locations based on distance to closest residence, ownership, land-use and access to parking, washroom facilities and transportation.

The list includes:

  • Cy Hampson Park
  • Blue Heron Park
  • Pat Bay Park
  • Hospital Hill
  • Sandown
  • Municipal Hall
  • Panorama Recreation
  • Glen Meadows

Council has directed staff to work on concept development for Cy Hampson Park, Blue Heron Park and Hospital Hill.

Cy Hampson Park is currently the district’s top choice as it’s the only proposed park owned by the district and is big enough to house the courts and additional parking.

(Proposed pickleball courts at Cy Hampson Park. Photo supplied by the District of Saanich.)

Those who use the park are concerned about the change.

Ian Munro uses the park daily and said it is heavily used by residents for picnics, bird watching, and nature walks. He said it’s also one of the few fully fenced dog parks in the area and taking away that space is a huge concern.

“There’s nowhere else to go in the community,” Munro said.

Melanie Hess, another dog owner who uses the park, agreed, adding there are many courts available for pickleball players.

“Let’s utilize those,” Hess added.

There is also a letter and petition circulating in the community. The petition creators confirmed to CHEK News it has more than 400 signatures opposing the proposed courts, citing sound as a big concern for neighbouring houses and animals.

The staff report said that based on the distance to the nearest residence and the enjoyment of park users, some consideration of sound mitigation should be considered at this location.

“A combination of earth berms and acoustical fencing is recommended,” the report said.

Munro suggested the district update and enclose the Wain Road pickleball courts.

Those courts were built in 2017 and, according to the report, have been heavily utilized.

“In terms of recreation use, the courts could be considered highly successful,” the report said. “The courts are also impactful on the local neighbourhood in terms of noise and parking.”

Council has directed staff to explore sound mitigation options for those courts, which could include freestanding walls, berms or acoustical panels to shield the noise.

The issue is stated to come back to council on Jan. 15.

Mackenzie Read

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