Disappointed Victoria Pickleball players took their message to the city on Thursday, after the city left a popular park in the vicinity of James Bay to stop the game.
Several members of the local pickleball group set up an immediate court in front of City Hall, where they batted the ball in a light protest.
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Janine Douglas, a local pickball organizer, said: “We’ve decided to get out of here and show the council and the mayor what pickball is all about.
“The message we’re trying to send is that this is a game that is growing exponentially. There are a lot of seniors here, but there are also a lot of young people because it’s a game you can play with family.”
The city removed the pickleball lines from Todd Park’s tennis court on March 31 after receiving noise complaints from neighbors. Tennis players have also complained about the lack of access to the court due to the popularity of pickball.
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Pickleball is a net and racquet / paddle game that uses a hard, polymer ball.
Hitting a paddle ball produces about 60 decibels of noise, which is part of Victoria’s Noise By-Law. However, Todd Park courts are about 17 meters away from nearby homes, while recent industry standards have set a minimum distance of 50 meters.
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Player Luke Penseni said: “We were ready to adapt, to put on acoustic curtains, to keep a different cool ball, to keep down the hours – we were not consulted by the city.”
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In a statement, Victoria City said there are currently four parks available for pickleball players: Central Park, Oaklands, Bernard Park and Franklin Green.
“The city acknowledges the high demand for pickleball in the region and the health benefits for those who play the sport,” it says.
“The city has discussed this conversion with pickleball permit holders and is continuing.”
It said six of the seven pickleball groups with permits had been relocated to Central Park, where it said the courts were further away from home.
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It said it planned six dedicated pickleball courts to upgrade to Topaz Park, with construction expected to begin in 2023.
Robbie Christie, with the James Bay Pickleball Club, said the alternative to Central Park, a distance of about 3.5 kilometers and a 45-minute walk, was not practical for many James Bay seniors who play.
“We can no longer go to court. It was part of the fun of pickleball – walking in the park, exploring the surroundings, playing with the people you enjoy playing with, “he said.
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Topaz upgrades, he added, will probably not be ready for players for at least two years.
“We’re entering our 80’s, so will we stay here even if they’re over? Now we have nowhere to go, ”he said.
Pickleballs, it turns out, can’t be left waiting for a compromise.
Towards the end of Thursday’s protest, players say they have received a call from city staff to set up a meeting for Tuesday to discuss an “immediate solution.”
“Thank you for listening to us,” Penseni said.
“Now we will wait to see the reality of the proposed solution.”
– Including Elizabeth McSheffer’s file
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