A spokesperson for Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says there “definitely has not been a skyrocketing report of problems” at North Saanich’s pickleball courts on Wain Road.
“We have only ever received three calls – two parking complaints and a COVID-19 (complaint),” said Cpl. Carrie Harding Wednesday morning. She made that comment after Mike Houle of North Saanich had claimed in a letter to the editor that “noise and player behaviour complaints to bylaw enforcement and the RCMP have skyrocketed” after District of North Saanich had “rushed to implement a new pickleball court on Birch Road” at “immense cost” to local taxpayers without appearing “to understand or appreciate how this new facility would impact residents.”
The most recent complaint happened on Feb. 24. “We received a complaint that a group of people may not be following COVID-19 restrictions,” Harding said before confirming that they were playing pickleball at the courts. “We attended. We spoke to the people that were present, who were all respecting the COVID-19 regulations.”
The police report about the complaint does not mention the exact number of people in the group and privacy reasons prevent police from releasing the identity of the individual who filed the complaint.
The Wain Road facility features four pickleball courts. Current public health measures restrict pickleball to singles play. Doubles play is permissible if the respective playing partners come from the same household, and up to 10 people may engage in outdoor sports if the sport is not prohibited. Participants must maintain a distance of three metres from one another unless everyone lives in the same private residence.
These figures appear against the backdrop of a continuous debate about the effects – perceived or otherwise – of the sport on the community. The growing popularity of the sport – especially but not exclusively among seniors – has led to heavy use of the courts in North Saanich, but also tensions with area neighbours concerned about noise. North Saanich council is set to receive a report about court usage and its effects in November.
The courts are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. They used to be open from dawn to dusk before the municipality posted the new hours in response to noise concerns.
Council last month followed a recommendation to Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association to improve the signage for the posted hours but stopped short of putting locks on the pickleball courts for now before returning to the issue in November. Council also signalled its intention to improve the collection of impartial court usage data in acknowledging a previous gap in data.
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