Sidney council has hit the ball back to the association representing pickleball players in the region in the search for finding an appropriate location for additional courts.
Councillors passed a motion 6-1 with Coun. Terri O’Keeffe opposed that calls on staff to request recommendations from the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association “on ways to minimize community impacts of pickleball courts and provide details on a funding partnership.” This motion passed after council received a report raising questions about whether Sidney can actually accommodate additional outdoor courts. The sport’s popularity has grown in recent years, but also caused conflicts.
The report finds outdoor pickleball courts in a residential neighbourhood would cause impacts that “cannot be fully mitigated” in noting pickleball in residential areas could cause noise complaints. “Based on the challenges faced by other municipalities, staff are challenged to find an appropriate location for outdoor pickleball courts in Sidney that would not result in a negative impact to the community,” it reads. But if staff appear “unaware of a solution that fully mitigates community impacts,” the report also spells out “some mitigation measures.”
They include building fewer courts with staff identifying Tulista Park as a possible location for two courts. While the oceanside park might be not be appealing because of high winds, it is the only park in Sidney with a facility that generates a high volume of noise: the skate park. Staff leaves open the possibility of expanding those courts or building an additional two courts at a different park if pickleball proves less impactful.
Speaking to the Peninsula News Review in late January, association representatives expressed excitement about the possibility of pickleball courts coming to the park located opposite Victoria International Airport.
Helen Brandon called the park the “perfect location” in predicting it would be well used. “It can be a shining example for Sidney looking after its citizens’ needs as they did with the skatepark (in Tulista Park),” she said.
Corine Reid, president of the association, said Sidney needs additional courts because of the sport’s growing popularity with only four dedicated courts available in the region. “And they are extremely busy because there is so much desire to play. It’s nice to play on pickleball specific courts, because they are different than other courts.”
She later added the sport with its hundreds of players across the region offers several benefits, including exercise and friendship
Council’s decision does not end the search for new facilities as councillors will debate a $30,000 budget item for the design of up to six pickleball courts and washrooms (with corresponding community consultations). While the item does not identify a specific location, staff had identified Brethour Park as the ideal location.
A motion that would have struck the item from 2021 budget talks failed, drawing only support from Coun. Barbara Fallot and O’Keeffe, who said Sidney’s geography makes the search for an appropriate location difficult. The majority of colleagues disagreed, with Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith noting the sport’s growing popularity. Had the motion passed, council could not have considered the item again until 2022 at the earliest.
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