Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turn out the lights, the pickleball is over on these North Saanich courts

The Wain Park pickleball court was officially closed effective as of 7:30 yesterday morning, mere hours after an overflow crowd packed the city council’s chamber, many there to appeal the closure.

Mark Brennae
May 8, 2024
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turn out the lights, the pickleball is over on these North Saanich courts

The Wain Park pickleball court was officially closed effective as of 7:30 yesterday morning, mere hours after an overflow crowd packed the city council’s chamber, many there to appeal the closure.

Mark Brennae
May 8, 2024
Photo: Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association
Photo: Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association
Community
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turn out the lights, the pickleball is over on these North Saanich courts

The Wain Park pickleball court was officially closed effective as of 7:30 yesterday morning, mere hours after an overflow crowd packed the city council’s chamber, many there to appeal the closure.

Mark Brennae
May 8, 2024
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Turn out the lights, the pickleball is over on these North Saanich courts
Photo: Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association

A he-says-she-says situation in North Saanich has spiraled into the closure of its outdoor pickleball courts and has the mayor talking about repurposing it, even though it is wildly popular and heavily used.

The Wain Park pickleball court was officially closed effective as of 7:30 yesterday morning, mere hours after an overflow crowd packed the city council’s chamber, many there to appeal the closure.

“It never had to get to this point, but it has now,” North Saanich Mayor Peter Jones tells Capital Daily.

“The next step is we've asked staff to look at repurposing,” he says, pointing at the possibility of putting in basketball hoops, which were there before.

The courts are located about 50-80m from a series of five houses and Jones says those residents have “gone through so much harassment and bullying over the last number of years that pickleball is just not going to happen at this time.”

The Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association (SPPA) denies all accusations of bullying, contends the complaints are overblown, and that the decision to shutter the courts was made with no transparency, public input, or fiscal responsibility. 

Only built 7 years ago

The four-court outdoor complex was built in 2017 at a cost of between $150K and $200K. The association, which represents 170 players, says walking away from it now is hardly a good use of tax dollars.

The mayor says a major chunk of the bill was paid by a North Saanich donor and that pickleball may be best played indoors to limit noise levels.

He points to plans for the remake of Oak Bay’s Carnarvon Park, which includes the option to move the outdoor courts inside.

Noise reduction at the heart of the impasse

Interestingly, the association points to the same park as an example of successful outdoor soundproofing which it claims has reduced noise levels significantly.

“It’s dramatic,” SPPA spokesman Brad Watson tells Capital Daily. “And you walk to the edge of the neighbors in Carnarvon and it's like just less than what a heat pump gives off—that 40-45 decibel level.”

Watson says spending $38K to install 10-foot sound absorption panels would solve the noise issue and allow players—many of them seniors—to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine when they play. The mayor says it wouldn’t solve the problem and further, the cost he says, would be closer to $90K.

Sides do not see eye-to-eye

It’s another of the many related issues the sides see differently.

The association, which last week, watched an online petition to reverse the decision quickly fill with 1,500+ signatures, claims the mayor is siding with a few neighbours at the expense of hundreds of pickleball players.

“Yes, there's hundreds, but they come in from Langford, Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay to play at these courts,” the mayor says. “And they're more than welcome to do it if they play by the rules, but they haven't been.”

The association calls the decision abrupt and favours a few residents over the many. 

“We have to make a determination based on what's best for the total community, not just the isolated few,” Jones says.

As far as blindsiding pickleballers, Jones insists he’s been trying for more than a year to find a new location for the courts but the pickleballers haven’t been playing ball.

“Every location we offered was turned down,” he says. 

1 councillor opposed the closure

Coun. Jack McClintock, the only dissenting vote in the council’s 5-1 decision (one councillor was absent) last week to shutter the courts, tells Capital Daily he hasn’t seen any bullying first-hand.

“I haven’t been privy to conflicts, either between pickleball players and the community or the community and the pickleball players,” he said.

He said he asked members of the council who voted in favour of closing the courts to reopen the motion to discuss the issue further but none came forward. Only those who voted in favour of the closure are allowed to reopen the motion.

“As far as the council process is concerned, it's done. That's over,” a disappointed McClintock said. “The pickleball courts are closed, not to be used for the sport of pickleball.”

Asked whether he anticipated legal action, as was suggested at Monday night’s meeting, McClintock responded: “Whether or not that route is followed, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Related News

E&N Trail collision puts focus on CRD Cruise with Courtesy campaign
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.