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Pickleballers take the game to city hall to protest lack of courts

Players have been told they can't play at Todd Park in James Bay because of noise complaints
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Luke Penseney, left, hits the ball during a pickleball protest game in Centennial Square near Victoria City Hall on Thursday. He says players have been left with few options. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Pickleball players from James Bay and South Fairfield took their fight for more court access to city hall Thursday, with a group of players setting up a makeshift court in Centennial Square.

A group of players protesting the recent banning of pickleball from Todd Park in James Bay taped off some pickleball lines and started playing while city council met in the building beside them.

The players said it won’t be the last time they turn the square into a sports venue.

“We have been left with few options,” said Luke Penseney, an advocate for seniors’ recreation. “We can cycle and walk to the city hall courts and until the city finds us an alternate location, we shall meet up here.”

Pickleball was banned from Todd Park due to noise complaints from nearby homes, and players were relocated to tennis courts at Central Park. The city had more than 1,000 hours of block bookings for pickleball at Todd Park last year.

The head of the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association has warned that moving that number of players will create conflicts with tennis players.

Janine Douglas, pickleball organizer for Meetup.com, Victoria’s 50-plus active living and wellness group, said they are delighted at the prospect of using Centennial Square until the city comes up with better options. “The city taketh away courts so they must give us alternatives,” she said.

The City of Victoria has acknowledged the high demand for the game in the region and the health benefits for those who play.

The Victoria Regional Pickleball Association now has 400 members, with a surge since the recent spate of publicity.

At least six pickleball courts are expected to be part of the next phase of improvements to Topaz Park. That phase is currently being designed and construction is set to start in 2023.

aduffy@timescolonist.com