A new staff report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000, adding that staff cannot currently enforce court hours.
The hiring of a third party – some might say bouncer – to monitor court use appears among three options presented in the report, discussed by North Saanich council on Monday. Council asked for the report in April to develop options for monitoring usage of the municipality’s four pickleball courts.
“This option would provide monitoring and enforcement at closing time only,” it reads. “The process would involve the park to be visited every day at closing time to count the number of people playing and then requesting that they leave.”
The two other options call for the use of cameras, which comes with an initial cost between $5,000 and $8,000 and an annual cost of $6,000; and timed locks, which would cost $6,000 and have no annual cost. Council had previously considered installing timed locks, which could be opened from the inside.
Staff flagged the potential for privacy violations under the camera option. “Should council wish to pursue this option further additional review would be required,” the report reads.
The community continues to bounce around ideas to ease tensions between court users and nearby residents, whose complaints have focused on excessive noise stemming from the sport’s equipment to the hours of use. While councillors will take a more expansive look in the fall, Coun. Brett Smyth said the noise issue appears to be more pressing than usage, despite the timed lock idea being the most logical solution.
Coun. Patricia Pearson said timed locks would not necessarily prevent players from playing beyond the posted hours.
Coun. Heather Gartshore said the association representing pickleball players has been reminding members about playing within the posted hours.
She also said the potential costs of the three options are not insignificant. “I’m happy not do anything right now,” she said, pointing to the upcoming discussion in the fall.
Current rules allow play from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
The courts were open from dawn to dusk before the municipality posted the new hours in response to concerns, which nonetheless appear unresolved.
Staff are unable to enforce compliance of court times, reads the report, which also tracks bylaw complaints involving the courts – 27 have been received from five individuals since September 2020.
Staff could not confirm whether all complaints were related to usage outside operating hours; some were said to stem from noise during operating hours.
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