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Pickleballers eye noise-reduction measures after North Saanich expulsion

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A battle is brewing on the Saanich Peninsula after North Saanich council closed the only dedicated pickleball court in the area.

On Wednesday, the Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association travelled to Carnarvon Park in Oak Bay hoping to use technology to prove that the sport can be silenced.

“We want to find a solution for everybody and open up this gem of a recreation facility,” said Brad Watson, president of the association.

Watson says on May 7, the municipality of North Saanich locked up the dedicated pickleball court on Wain Road due to noise complaints from the neighbours.

Now members of his group have travelled to Carnarvon Park in Oak Bay, where a solution has apparently been found for the constant pickleball noise. That municipality has implemented a sound-mitigating curtain on its court to dampen the pickleball noise for the neighbours living nearby.

“Today we’re taking sound measurements of this court, just comparing different scenarios, equipment and sound-mitigation methods,” said Jordan Mikkers, a mechanical designer and owner of Maximum Prototyping.

Mikkers is responsible for collecting data, measuring the volume and frequency of the sounds coming from the pickleball court.

Using a calibrated microphone, he measured the pickleball noise from within the court, then from outside – comparing those with and without sound-mitigating curtains.

Watson they initially used a regular paddle before players switched to a locally produced paddle, designed to be much quieter.

“You’ll see the difference,” said Watson.

With the quieter paddles, Mikkers found there was a noise reduction of nearly 50 per cent on the side of the court without the noise-mitigating curtain.

Using the quieter paddles on the side of the court with the curtain, the noise reduction was apparently significant – "80 to 90 per cent," Mikkers said.

Mikkers says the noise from the adjacent tennis court was actually louder than the pops from the pickleball court.

“Anybody can play and that’s the big draw,” said Trish Fougner, a board member with the Victoria Regional Pickleball Association.

The association contributed $4,000 toward the noise-mitigating curtain in Oak Bay. The total cost of that project was $30,000. Fougner says the group would consider financially contributing to a similar project at the North Saanich court.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in North America, with the 18-34 demographic currently growing at the fastest pace.

“It’s just a really social and interactive game,” said Frank Gee, a pickleball player from North Saanich.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” said Roger Fox, who has been playing pickleball for the past 15 years.

The group says the next step will be to take the data it collected in Oak Bay to North Saanich council. It hopes the municipality will consider installing a noise mitigating curtain on the Wain Road court, keeping the pickles flying and neighbours happy. 

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