Pickleball is a “sport on fire” and growing rapidly in Greater Victoria, sparking a search for facilities amid noise concerns.
Victoria Regional Pickleball Association reports a 300-per-cent growth in membership since October 2021, with 680 current members now, said president Connie McCann.
“We know about the demand for this game as our June Victoria Classic tournament filled in 40 minutes when it opened for registration. That was 150 players who all signed up for the three-day tournament in less than an hour. Our Christmas Tournament is the same. It is open only to members and it fills in 20 minutes – 65 players.”
VRPA lessons also fill up within 15 minutes when the sign-up is sent out.
The organization is limited by the number of available courts. The only indoor courts are eight in the field house at Pearkes Recreation Centre.
“In order to capture the provincial tournament, we need 24 courts. In order to host the nationals, we need 32,” McCann said.
The noise of people enjoying the game, played with hard paddles and a plastic ball, has created controversy and led to the closure of some courts. Victoria banned the game from a James Bay park, recommending players head to one of five others with courts. The issue was houses 17 metres away.
In Oak Bay, council moved its Carnarvon Park court away from homes to a lesser-used lacrosse box. They also invested in noise-mitigating sheeting and applied it to the existing enclosure.
This month, Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Saanich recently served up a survey, kicking off development of a regional strategy.
The online survey focuses on current and future court use, booking systems and impacts. The plan is to develop the strategy this summer and fall, refine it come winter, then have the plan in place by spring 2024.
“This is a sport on fire and the municipalities do not quite know how to meet our needs, but we are grateful for the regional pickleball strategy being offered,” McCann said.