Municipal officials in North Saanich will wait until November to decide whether they will put locks on the pickleball courts on Wain Road, but at least one councillor remains open to the possibility.
Councillors voted unanimously on Monday to receive and refer a report detailing the costs of placing locks on the pickleball courts to a planning meeting in November. Council had commissioned that report after voting 4-2 to (with Couns. Heather Gartshore and Murray Weisenberger opposed) to investigate the costs of placing timed locks on the courts after Coun. Brett Smyth had pointed out courts remain in use beyond posted hours – exacerbating noise concerns.
According to the report, it would cost $6,000 to place timed locks on the courts in preventing users from accessing the courts before and after opening hours.
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 and Monday’s decision means that the municipality won’t take any potentially divisive actions at least until November when council will review the issue again.
The courts are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Friday, 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.
“I don’t want to minimize the concerns of the residents,” said Coun. Patricia Pearson. “I understand that the noise is an on-going frustration.” But council needs to stick to its course, she said. “If we want to be transparent and encourage peoples’ trust, we can’t be changing decisions or modifying them along the way.”
Pearson said council knew it was a possibility that the municipality would lack the means to enforce the hours in case users wouldn’t follow them. “I agree with the referral and we can look at other options at that time.”
Gartshore also acknowledged the need for “evasive action” in the future if it is “really problematic,” but also signalled skepticism about placing locks on courts to prevent players from using them after hours.
“How much beyond 6 p.m. are people staying?” she asked. “Or how much earlier than 8 a.m.? I don’t know. How problematic is it? I’m not prepared to spend $6,000 just to carry this on.”
This said, both Smyth and Gartshore agreed with a suggestion from the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association to improve the signage for the posted hours, a move formalized with a unanimous council vote.
Council also signalled intentions to improve the collection of impartial court usage data.
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