The District of Squamish will be limiting pickleball court hours following a volley of ongoing noise complaints from nearby residents in the ParkHouse complex.
It will also consider permanently relocating the courts after having sunk over $44,000 of municipal money into their creation at the Eaglewind tennis courts.
A staff report says the cost of a relocation ranges from around $60,000 if other existing tennis courts were repurposed and up to approximately $260,000 to construct a new facility of similar size at another location.
On April 5, council voted unanimously to limit the times that people can use the pickleball courts.
In addition, elected officials also unanimously approved a motion directing staff to investigate ways to permanently relocate the pickleball courts as part of the 2023 budgeting process.
This may facilitate more spending on the part of the municipality, which has already sunk tens of thousands of dollars into the creation of the courts.
The pickleball courts were created by converting the Eaglewind tennis courts into a zone for pickleball.
A staff report shows council authorized spending for the project, which totalled about $60,000. Of that number, $7,500 was grant money from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, and $7,900 was from the local pickleball association.
Construction was finished in time for play in late summer last year. But, very quickly, some nearby residents stated the larger groups, and the sounds of composite rackets hitting polymer balls were an irritant they had not experienced before when there were just tennis courts next door.
Under the new hours for 2022, pickleball will not be allowed on Sundays, and the schedule, depending on the season and time of week, would have people playing at the courts anywhere between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Some on council struck a conciliatory tone when voting on the matter.
"I don't think that this is an ideal scenario that we find ourselves in either in terms of the investment that's been made, and the unintended consequences," said Coun. Jenna Stoner. "But I would like to thank the community, both from the pickleball association and from the Park House strata for coming to the table with a mediator and finding this compromise solution for 2022."
Coun. Eric Andersen said that pickleball does meet a community health need, especially for seniors and disabled people.
However, he acknowledged the situation.
"We have made an oversight, but it's not only the District, and I don't want to offload responsibility, but the community at large — we're all learning together," Andersen said.
Both councillors Doug Race and John French said they accepted responsibility for the oversight.
"I was one of the people that voted in favour of putting some money towards these courts," said Race. "And so I'll take my share of the responsibility for that, at this time, and who knows what came out of it."
French had similar words.
"I'll join Coun. Race in taking responsibility or some level of responsibility after voting in favour of this dedicated pickleball facility," said French. "I, too, thought it was a good idea back when the idea was hatched. All these months later, here we are. So I'm reluctantly supporting this staff recommendation. The nearby residents impacted by the noise generated off of the rackets and the balls — it truly is a major disruption."
Coun. Armand Hurford said the situation has triggered an imperfect short-term solution.
"I also was supportive of the initial placement of these courts," said Hurford.
"And, on the one hand, I'm excited to see the uptake and their use. And very clearly we're seeing the negative, the unforeseen negative impacts of that facility. So I'm happy that both parties came to the table to try to wade through these issues and figure out a path forward. And what we have before us now is an imperfect short-term solution."