British Columbia

Vancouver plans to get 36 pop-up pickleball courts

After months of planning, the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Pickleball Association will turn several tennis courts into "pop-up" pickleball courts, although they did not specify a timeline.

Advocates say noise complaints highlight the need for more pickleball facilities

A number of public tennis courts in Vancouver are being considered as temporary pickleball courts. (CBC)

A number of tennis courts in Vancouver are being considered as locations for temporary pickleball courts.

After months of planning, the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Pickleball Association will turn several tennis courts into pop-up pickleball courts, although they did not specify a timeline.

The park board says more details on their locations and timelines will be provided once details are finalized. 

The association says signs will be posted to announce the courts will temporarily be used for pickleball only, with nets lowered to functions as catch nets. 

Pickleball uses wooden paddles to hit a ball across a net, and it's gaining popularity across metro Vancouver. But noise complaints have come hand in hand with the sport. We talk to Greg Feehan, President of the Vancouver Pickleball Association about what's going on.

The association says it has ordered portable nets and lock boxes for each site, and plans to install a windscreen at some of the sites. 

Temporary lines for the pickleball courts, which are smaller than a tennis court, will also be added, the association said. 

The sound of paddles hitting balls have led to noise complaints, which the Vancouver Pickleball Association says highlight the need for better pickleball facilities. (CBC)

Growing sport faces noise complaints

Earlier this week, the mayor of Delta wrote a letter to the president of Pickleball Canada and Pickleball B.C., expressing support for the continued growth of the sport. 

In the letter, George Harvie said the city has 59 courts, 36 of which have been added since 2019.  He also asked organizers to address noise concerns by pursuing equipment updates and other best practices to reduce the noise from paddles hitting balls.

There’s a controversy brewing on the tennis courts of Coquitlam, about a noise complaint lodged by a resident about the constant sound of pickleball matches at nearby Blue Mountain Park. That has inspired one man to write a song. His name is Adam Faber, and that’s his thing. He writes spoofs about news, people and places and plays them on his accordion.

"We need to have pickleball associations get together and do some research and development of using a quieter paddle and different balls," Harvie told CBC's On The Coast.

He said he received a response to the letter saying options are being explored.

Vancouver Pickleball Association president Greg Feehan said changing the composition of the ball would change the nature of the sport. A softer ball would bounce differently and affect players' ability to put spin on it.

"It would be equivalent to making hockey players use sponge pucks," he said. 

Feehan said the number of pickleball courts in the city expanded in recent years, then contracted following complaints over noise. 

He is sympathetic to noise complaints, noting that in addition to the sound of paddles hitting balls, pickleball is a "very boisterous" sport filled with chatter between players. 

Noise complaints, he argues, highlight the need for better facilities for a sport that has grown more rapidly than anyone anticipated.

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"I do not believe that this is a pickleball problem, it's a facilities problem," he said.

"If municipalities are willing to put in grass berms, if they're willing to put in barrier fences, if they're willing to put in setbacks away from houses this will no longer be a problem."

Feehan said the courts in Vancouver that are being considered for the pop-up courts are located away from housing, which should minimize noise complaints.

He acknowledged there may be pushback from local tennis players, but noted that the city has nearly 200 public tennis courts. At the time the association made its proposal to the city, there were just seven courts dedicated to pickleball, a sport he says has seen high rates of growth. 

The association says it will continue to advocate for high-quality, permanent pickleball courts, but is grateful for the "bridging locations" provided by the park board.

"I understand the bind that the parks board was in," Feehan said. "There's no land in Vancouver, and what there is is very expensive and lots of people clamouring for it. Anything they give to us, they had to take away from somebody else.

"They made a difficult decision and I applaud them for it."

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