Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

North Saanich accused of favouring complainers over community in closing pickleball courts

Those signing an online petition want the district to consider sound-mitigation measures to address noise complaints from nearby homes, rather than shutting down the courts
Pickleball courts at Wain Park are set to close May 7, after being built in 2017 for an estimated $150,000.. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Pickleball players are pushing back after the District of North Saanich said it would permanently shut down courts at Wain Road Park.

A petition started Thursday calling on the district to reconsider its decision gathered nearly 800 signatures in the first 24 hours.

Petitioners want the district to consider sound-mitigation measures to address noise complaints from nearby homes, rather than shutting down the courts.

“The pickleball courts at Wain Park in North Saanich are a valuable community asset frequented by hundreds of local citizens,” Caitlyn Wolski wrote in launching the petition. “These courts serve as an essential outdoor recreation facility, promoting health and wellness within our community.

“Closing the most popular outdoor recreation facility in the history of North Saanich not only deprives many people of their preferred recreation venue but also is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money.”

The courts, which were a strategic priority for the council at the time, were built in 2017 for an estimated $150,000.

District council voted 5-1 Monday night to shut down the four courts May 7.

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

Some of the residents who signed the online petition accused council of ignoring the wishes of a large number of community members in favour of a few.

“This is a community resource, paid for by the community. Pickleball is social and healthy, benefiting a large number of local people,” wrote Dina Anderson. “Noise is to be expected close to a public park. This closure is a win for a mere handful of people and a loss for hundreds of pickleball players. How is this fair?”

Suzanne Morphet added: “We don’t just need this decision overturned, we need a new mayor and council who will uphold democratic principles of transparency and honesty.”

Mayor Peter Jones has said that the courts are in the wrong location, and the Peninsula Recreation Commission should work on finding a more suitable location to house enclosed courts that do not have the same noise problem.

The commission is made up of representatives from North Saanich, Sidney and Central Saanich, with a mandate of providing recreation activities and facilities on the Saanich Peninsula.

In making its decision this week, council said it was not willing to ask taxpayers to fund sound-mitigation measures.

Over the years, district staff have presented a suite of such measures, ranging from a booking system and limiting playing hours to suggestions that players use soft paddles and soft balls.

Other jurisdictions like Oak Bay have tried requiring “soft” equipment, but found few players would comply.

District staff said sound mitigation at Wain Road could cost up to $70,000, while enclosing the courts was deemed too expensive.

Pickleball noise has caused problems in other areas of Greater Victoria

In 2022, Victoria banned pickleball from Todd Park in James Bay due to noise complaints from nearby residents, and players were relocated to tennis courts at Central Park near the Crystal Pool. Oak Bay moved pickleball from courts at Carnarvon Park to inside an enclosed lacrosse box that had sound barriers installed on fencing around the court.

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]