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‘Extremely surprised’: Victoria pickleball group ousted from park after noise complaints

A group of pickleball players in Victoria say they’re surprised and frustrated to learn that starting next month, they won’t be able to play in the tennis courts at Todd Park in James Bay.

The City of Victoria is removing pickleball lines from the courts after several noise complaints from nearby residents, whose homes are 17 metres away. According to the municipality, the lines were added in 2018, but more recent industry standards have established a minimum distance of 50 metres from the nearest homes.

“User groups were made aware of the concerns the City was receiving about Todd Park and were advised that options were being explored,” wrote Bill Eisenhauer, Victoria’s head of engagement, in an emailed statement.

“The decision to relocate play to Central Park is based on the fact that the distance to residents was so short and even limited playing time was unlikely to reduce impacts.”

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Connie McCann of the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association said there was “no consultation, no discussion” with their members before the decision was taken in mid-March. No one was aware, she added, that there had been noise complaints.

“I was extremely surprised,” she told Global News. “We know there is a noise associated with pickleball … it breaks no bylaws.”

The sound of the pickleball hitting the bat hovers around the 60-decible mark — well within Victoria’s noise bylaw.

“To completely outlaw it seems a bit heavy-handed,” said pickleball player Paul Fitzgerald.

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Marg Gardiner, president of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association, said folks in the neighbourhood first noted their pickleball noise concerns about a year ago. The tennis courts used to be used for drop-ins and some tennis reservations, she explained, but pickleball reservations increased — including on the weekends.

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“Neighbours, they couldn’t take it,” she said. “This is supposed to be a small neighbourhood little park. It’s not a large park and it’s not a park that is meant for the whole region.”

Gardiner said the community feels it has “lost the amenity” of the park to the increase in reservations, meaning youth can’t often drop in after school. Some residents, she added, said they couldn’t sleep due to “hours and hours of pickleball.”

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In the emailed statement, Eisenhauer said pickleball groups that were previously booked at Todd Park have been relocated to Central Park as of April 1, where the courts are much further from private residences. Other pickleball courts are available at Oaklands, Barnard and Franklin Green parks, he added.

“Reintroducing exclusive tennis use at Todd Park is something we’re also hearing as a community need,” he wrote. “In fact, we hear from both tennis and pickleball organizations that dedicated courts are preferred.”

The municipality is working with local and provincial pickleball partners to find a solution, he said, and plans to create to a dedicated set of pickleball courts at Topaz.

McCann said the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association would be happy to sit down at a table to discuss solutions, adding that more drop-in spaces and pickleball courts are needed.

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Victoria Coun. Stephen Andrew said he plans to help bring the neighbourhood, city and pickleball groups together to find “some compromise” as well.

with files from Kylie Stanton

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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