The City of Victoria has served pickleballers with their last day in James Bay.
Come April 1, only tennis lines will remain at the Todd Park courts, after noise complaints and the proximity of neighbouring homes convinced the city to take action.
City spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer said pickleball lines were added to the courts at the corner of Niagara and Montreal streets in 2018. At the time, no restrictions existed around the relatively new sport.
But, as interest has skyrocketed, so have complaints from court neighbours about the noise the sport’s hard plastic ball makes when hit. The BC Recreation and Parks Association now recommends pickleball courts be located no closer than 50 metres from residences.
The Todd Park courts are just 17 metres from the nearest home.
In 2018 it wasn’t a big problem, but Eisenhauer said the city issued 1,041 hours of pickleball permits at Todd Park in 2021, up from 170 the year before. That doesn’t capture players who just dropped in.
Still, the decision came as a shock to the dozens of James Bay players, who said they were given no opportunity to engage with the city on possible other solutions – reduced hours or sound barriers – before being told they’d have to relocate.
“It was devastating,” said Janine Douglas, the organizer of a group of players. She moved to Victoria from Alberta almost a year ago and said pickleball has provided her with friends, exercise and community.
She and others will be able to play at one of the city’s other pickleball courts, but Douglas said part of the appeal of the Todd Park courts is that almost everyone could walk or bike to them. The city’s suggested relocation site at Central Park means most people will have to drive.
Long-term, the city plans to construct exclusively pickleball courts at Topaz Park, with enough space for players to run tournaments.
Victoria Regional Pickleball Association president Connie McCann said the plan is great, but that interest in the sport continues to grow in the meantime and closing court access means increasing competition for playing space.
She’s still hopeful the city will engage with James Bay players and discuss other options.
“If there’s no conversation, there’s no way to get to solutions,” she said.
Eisenhauer said the city is working with regional and provincial partners to develop a strategy on supporting pickleball while recognizing noise concerns. Besides Todd Park, pickleball courts are available at Central, Oaklands and Barnard parks and Franklin Green.
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