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Peninsula pickleball players let council hear it as rackets silenced

On eve of Wain Park court closure, local pickleballers head to council meeting
The Wain Road pickleball courts were closed and locked as of the morning of May 7. (Bailey Seymour/News Staff)

A parade of angry pickleballers showed up at the North Saanich council meeting on Monday (May 6) to let councillors know how ticked off they are about the Wain Road closures and lobby for reconsideration.

“Why has a decision to close the Wain Park facility been made in such a hasty and untimely fashion, apparently without regard to what this means to pickleball players?” asked Patti Sumida.

Applause followed from an audience clearly packed with people upset about the council’s surprise decision at the April 29 meeting to close and padlock the courts. The closure motion, brought forward by Mayor Peter Jones, cited noise complaints from local residents as the reason for shuttering the courts.

The closure did go ahead as planned on Tuesday (May 7).

A petition urging the mayor and council to reconsider had received 1,570 signatures as of the afternoon of the first day of the shutdown.

District corporate officer Rachel Dumas told the crowd they would need to hold off on the applause if they wanted to be able to speak.

“Or not, we can stop now,” Dumas said.

Several testy exchanges followed between speakers and Mayor Peter Jones.

One man threatened to take the council to court, and when Jones shook his head at the assertion, the man said he had equipment that could take the door off the courts “every night.”

“Change your tone or we will ask you to sit down,” Jones told the speaker.

“You preside, you don’t rule,” the man responded, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

The council meeting began with Coun. Kristine Marshall explaining the rationale behind the closure.

“I hear your frustration and I hear your anger,” she said. “I also heard from the community that supports our decision.”

She continued by saying it was not an easy decision, and did not occur overnight. She also said wrestling with issues of noise around pickleball courts is not unique to North Saanich.

The district tried to alleviate some of the noise issues and posted limited hours for the courts, padlocking the gate during off hours.

Marshall said locks have been cut off, district staff verbally abused, and local residents harassed.

Her comments were met with loud boos from the crowd.

“Silence!” Jones said, admonishing the gallery.

The only person who voted against the closure was Coun. Jack McClintock.

As the speakers used up all the allotted public participation time, McClintock said he wanted to make sure everyone got their turn, though he did ask the public to be respectful in their behaviour.

“I would certainly like to hear everyone,” he said.

READ MORE: North Saanich council votes to close Wain Road pickleball courts on May 7

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