Coldstream politicians were damned if they do, damned if they don’t right from the get-go.
As Monday’s council meeting began, they were faced with a clear division — pickleball enthusiasts on one side of the room and residents fed up with pickleball on the other side.
“It’s a difficult issue because whose rights trump the other’s?” said Coun. Gyula Kiss.
“I’m not sure how we resolve the issue.”
The issue at hand is the apparent noise the pickleball makes hitting the paddle at the tennis courts on Mt. Ida Drive.
“We can’t deal with this all summer,” said resident Derek Watson, adding that the noise has resulted in migraine headaches and stress for his wife.
“We are expelled from our home when pickleball is being played.”
Many of the complaints are directed to the informal play that comes outside of scheduled matches.
“When you are outside and in the yard and the courts are utilized with that sound, it’s difficult to take out of the blue,” said neighbour Allan Budan.
Traffic has also become an issue as the Vernon Pickleball Club meets three mornings a week.
As the old saying goes, a man’s home is his castle. People invest a lot in their properties and neighbourhoods and when something possibly threatens that, they are going to push back. It’s natural.
However, what’s also understandable is the passion many people are showing for pickleball, which is similar to badminton and tennis.
One of the fastest growing sports in North America, the local club’s membership has soared from just a handful to more than 200.
The goal has been to fund a permanent home, and it seemed like the Middleton Mountain tennis courts were the ideal spot.
“It’s getting used a lot,” said Gerry Forcier, a club member.
Forcier admits some noise has been generated.
“We want to be respectful of the neighbours and we’re grateful we can use it there. We don’t want to annoy people. We will do what we can,” he said.
With two factions before them, Coldstream council struggled with what to do.
Ultimately, it was decided to restrict pickleball at the courts Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. That will continue to allow the pickleball club to meet while preventing unscheduled, drop-in games, hopefully ensuring residents have some relief from the steady noise.
However, installing signs isn’t enough. Will the municipality be prepared to enforce the rules when complaints come in about someone playing pickleball after hours?
And the potential for conflict looms as limiting the game to 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. could be considered discriminatory.
“We’re saying that any working person in the neighbourhood who wants to play the occasional pickleball can’t,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane.
Also consider that the battle will spread beyond Middleton Mountain.
Council has agreed to pickleball lines at the Kalview tennis courts so how will neighbours there react to the noise? There have been some suggestions about allowing the sport at the Lavington court, but homes are easily within ear-shot.
One solution may be to construct a facility strictly for pickleball, but there will never be a place central enough for players to access but far enough away from residents to be sound-proof, unless it’s indoors.
Coldstream staff and politicians will monitor the situation at the end of the season and determine if new policies are required for the coming year.
However, there is no avoiding the competing pressures that will come from a group of sports enthusiasts and residents looking for some peace and quiet.
And with no magic fix or simple solution, I actually feel sorry for the powers-that-be.