The Town of Okotoks in Alberta, Canada, is currently grappling with a surge in demand for pickleball courts, accompanied by the predictable increase in noise levels.
The situation has posed a challenge for the town; as Mayor Tanya Thorn notes, “I could probably build 50 courts right now, and they would be full.” She acknowledges the widespread appeal of pickleball, emphasizing its accessibility across various age groups.
The Constant “Racket”
One resident, Rob Burns, who has called Okotoks home for over two decades, finds himself particularly affected by the constant “racket” (no pun intended):
“The hard ball and a hard paddle make a really irritating noise. People don’t understand how irritating the pitch of it is, and when you get 20 of them out there, it’s pretty noisy.”
In an effort to address these concerns, Rob Burns took the matter to an Okotoks town council meeting in April.
In response to resident feedback, the town council opted to curtail the hours during which pickleball can be played at two outdoor courts.
Restricted Hours Of Play
At the Bob Anderson Courts, play is now restricted to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and on Saturdays, with shorter hours on Fridays and Sundays.
While signage updates are pending, these adjustments are seen as a positive step by concerned residents like Burns:
“I’m glad to see that they’re going to do something. Get rid of it, hopefully by next year. You can have 20 out there, and it’s bad. You get two or three out there [but] it’s still irritating because of the pitch of it.”
A Fair Balance
According to Mayor Thorn, she says residents believe this measure strikes a fair balance while the town explores more permanent solutions.
She encourages residents to experience the noise firsthand, stating, “I encouraged our residents who were pushing back to us having to change. I said: ‘Take your lawn chair and go sit up by the pickleball courts and sit there for four hours, and you let me know at the end of it how you feel about it.'”
In tandem with to these measures, the town has expanded its pickleball facilities.
Four indoor courts have been added at the Foothills Centennial Centre, along with four indoor courts in the Okotoks Curling Rink (available from April to August). Two outdoor courts with portable nets are available at Ecole Beausoleil.
Looking ahead, Okotoks Town Council has approved the site selection for a new pickleball and tennis facility at 10 Chinook Arch Way. This location, covering 5.45 acres, will offer a blend of indoor and outdoor courts, surrounded by schools and anticipated future developments.
The facility is expected to be capable of hosting provincial and international tournaments, projected to bring substantial economic benefits to the local community.
It will be operated as a not-for-profit venture, with the town’s contribution approved at $2 million for the $8 million project. The remaining funds will be sourced through a combination of partnerships, grants, and donations, and construction is set to commence in 2024.
Meanwhile, in Calgary, pickleball enthusiasts have gained a new venue with the opening of the Calgary Pickleball Centre in October.
Offering 12 new courts and a range of playing styles, tournaments, private lessons, and clinics, it aims to meet the exceptional demand for the sport.
General manager Randy Popplestone emphasizes the sport’s remarkable growth over the past four years: “The demand is exceptional. The pickle community is desperate.”
“I think it’s here to stay!”
The facility, located adjacent to Deerfoot City, has also taken steps to address noise concerns with the installation of thousands of soundproofing squares.
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