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Saanich in a pickle with Tolmie Park pickleball courts

Saanich council considers acoustic fencing panels to help soften noise disruption
Beverly De Haitre is a passionate pickleball player who said the community needs to come together to find a compromise to address persistent noise complaints. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Pickleball courts at Saanich’s Tolmie Park are causing a stir as passionate players and nearby residents attempt to resolve issues of bothersome noise caused by the game.

District of Saanich staff provided several options to council at their Oct. 4 committee of the whole meeting, and council opted to move forward with the option that involves the installation of new acoustic fencing panels – a $45,000-project – in a 7-2 vote.

There were a total of four options with the last being the removal of the courts at Tolmie Park. Mayor Fred Haynes explained in an interview after the meeting that staff could install them elsewhere that is not so close to residential homes. The majority of councillors did not think this was as wise as the noise mitigation efforts seen in the first option, which was the one they ultimately decided on.

The second option suggested limiting playtimes and locking the gates, whereas the third option suggested introducing a booking system.

The courts were installed in 2016 and, according to a staff report, it was in early 2017 that staff began hearing complaints from residents in nearby houses about noise.

Staff were hearing about the type of sound created by the paddles striking the hard plastic ball, as well as players themselves being too loud, the report said. There have also been ongoing noise levels due to the constant use of the courts.

Avid pickleball player Beverly De Haitre said she’s heard neighbours are bothered by the sound of the racket hitting the ball since that sound can carry

“The courts have been here for numerous years and I’ve been playing here for a long time,” she said. “I can see how it might be annoying, however, there are bylaws in place to ensure it doesn’t go past certain times of the day.”

De Haitre said there are many potential solutions and that it’s just a matter of the community coming together to find a compromise.

ALSO READ: Closed courts not an option for Oak Bay despite pickleball noise

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