‘This was not a snap decision’: North Saanich votes to close Wain Park pickleball courts

'This was not a snap decision': North Saanich votes to close Wain Park pickleball courts

North Saanich council has voted to permanently close the pickleball courts at Wain Park, largely due to noise concerns.

Instead of investing in sound-reduction measures, the council decided to lock the gates to the courts starting Tuesday, May 7.

The motion to close the courts was written and put forward to the council by Mayor Peter Jones earlier this week.

It includes putting up a sign around the gate to notify people of the permanent closure.

“What really brought it forward was on Sunday night, when the courts were supposed to be closed either at 4 or 4:45 p.m. I heard that they were still playing and I drove by there at 8 o’clock and they were still playing, and they wouldn’t leave the courts,” Jones told CHEK News on Thursday.

“This is not a snap decision. This has been a long time coming,” added the mayor.

“Council and staff looked at alternatives to reduce the sound that was being created by the pickleball and our findings and discussions with many municipalities across Canada, and also locally, was that sound mitigation with panels as an example simply didn’t work because it would reduce the decibels but not the hertz.”

According to USA Pickleball, who are working to make the sport quieter, the pop-pop-pop sound produced in the rapid-fire paddle play is in the 70 decibel range.

Sound experts say it’s not a dangerous amount of noise but it’s about twice as loud as tennis.

Messages of frustration and support

Councillor Jack McClintock was the only one who voted against the motion passed on Monday night.

McLintock told CHEK News, “We were given no notice that there was going to be a motion of this nature. ”

“To close a facility like this abruptly without notice to the public is surprising because these courts are used continuously; the volume of people that come here, the age range and primarily the senior age range just shows that the people of the district want this court,”  he added.

Regulars say locking the gates for good will have a big impact on their life.

“I have some issues with being stiff in my arm and in my leg, and when I’m out playing it goes away, at least temporarily,” said North Saanich pickleball player Michael McEwan.

“My husband has Parkinson’s and playing here had helped him a lot,” said another player, Rosemary Harrison.

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A sign is pictured at the Wain Road pickleball courts on May 2, 2024. (CHEK News)

Neighbours living close to these Wain Park courts have been complaining for years.

The courts are backed by a field, and across from Birch Road, where there are about half a dozen residences.

The mayor says the courts, which were built in 2017, are in the wrong location.

“We have to consider all the residents of North Saanich, not just the recreational facilities that we provide, not just for the  pickleball players, but we also have to look at health and well-being of local residents that will be severely impacted by the pickleball noise,” he said.

One resident says the closure could have been prevented had the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association collaborated with the district, the players, and the neighbourhood to find solutions.


Harry CorroHarry Corro

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