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Plan to move pickleball courts in North Saanich ignites furor

The plan was to shut down the Wain Road Park courts due to noise concerns, but an alternate location at Cy Hampson Park is getting a thumbs down from residents
Entrance to Cy Hampson Park is plastered with signs. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

North Saanich council’s search for a new site for pickleball courts has residents up in arms.

There are four pickleball courts in Wain Road Park, which have been hugely popular, but council is looking at closing them because of noise concerns.

In December, council directed staff to consider the design and cost of courts in Cy Hampson Park, Blue Heron Park and Hospital Hill. The issue is on the agenda for a council meeting Monday.

A staff report says “in light of the public interest” surrounding the issue, council should consider pausing concept development for the sites in order to conduct public engagement or work on creating a peninsula pickleball strategy with Sidney and Central Saanich.

The possibility of adding pickleball courts to Cy Hampson Park has sparked uproar among some residents, who are worried about losing space in an already busy park that’s popular with dog owners because it’s fenced.

Council received 54 pages of letters from residents, mostly in opposition. A petition against locating courts in Cy Hampson has gathered more than 400 signatures.

“The park is pretty close to its capacity for parking and for dogs,” said Ian Munro, a North Saanich resident who walks regularly in Cy Hampson Park, adding moving the courts to the park would only create new problems.

Brad Watson, president of the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association, would like the courts to remain at Wain Park, saying they are among the best in the region.

In a statement, Watson said only a handful of neighbours have complained about noise from the courts.

The association took sound readings while the courts were in use on two occasions, measuring an average noise level of 47 decibels at the closest neighbour’s property — below the noise level associated with heat pumps, Watson said.

The association suggests adding acoustic fencing to the court’s perimeter fence, at an estimated cost of about $30,000, to reduce sound from the court by about 50 per cent, Watson said.

Mayor Peter Jones said he has heard the community’s feedback and doesn’t think Cy Hampson is a suitable location for courts. However, he notes that the nearest house to the Wain Road location is just 47 metres away.

A staff report in December says proposed guidelines from the district recommend courts be at least 50 metres from homes unless “major sound abatement” is in place.

Courts with houses up to 110 metres away would still require significant mitigation, the report says.

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