The District of North Saanich, B.C. has hired private security guards to enforce the pickleball court hours at Wain Park in the aftermath of concerns from neighbours.
For several years, some members of the community near the park have expressed concern about noise from the sport, the number of parked cars spilling into the street and playing after hours.
North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr said the private security guards — hired at a cost of about $3,000 for three months — may look like an “overstep,” but will help the district gather the information needed to make future decisions about the courts.
“A lot of the information is anecdotal from the neighbours and players,” he explained.
“Are players playing every available hour of the day? Are players playing over the allocated time in terms of court closures? We don’t really have any way to assess that unless we do some assessment.”
The security guard option was presented by municipal staff as an alternative to putting timed locks on the pickleball court gate. Over the years, Orr said the city has considered other alternatives to appease everyone, including sound-proof fences, berms and reduced hours.
The district will reassess the use of security guards at the end of September.
“It’s just a small measure. We hope it serves the purpose and we look forward to finding a way we can co-exist with play and activity and also neighbour concerns,” said Orr.
Pickleball is a net and racket or paddle sport that uses a hard polymer ball. A paddle striking the ball generates a sound of about 60 decibels.
In March, the City of Victoria removed pickleball lines from tennis courts in Todd Park on March 31, after it received noise complaints from neighbours, and tennis players complained about lack of access to the courts due to the popularity of pickleball.
Shortly after those players held an impromptu game outside Victoria City Hall, the municipality moved to set up additional courts in Beacon Hill.
Connie McCann, president of the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association, said the sport is “on fire,” meaning courts — including in North Saanich’s Wain Park — are overused.
“I’m going to say security guards are a little bit much, but that’s what municipalities do,” she told Global News, upon learning about Wain Park. “When a sport’s on fire, I’ll tell you the answer is more courts.”
The pickleball courts at Wain Park are open for play between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, Friday and Saturday, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, and between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
— with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey