Residents living near an Okotoks pickleball court are growing tired of the noise.
Okotokian Rob Burns spoke before town council last week to notify them of the excessive noise coming from the Wilson Street pickleball courts and brought a petition signed by other nearby residents.
His appearance before council came in anticipation of the return of pickleball activities on the court with the arrival of spring.
Burns says the noise has become increasingly agitating over the last few years as pickleball has grown more and more popular.
"I spent over 20 years building my house and creating a nice yard to retire in. It happened to be near tennis courts which did not bother me at all. Two courts would have a maximum of eight players with a soft ball and strung rackets which emit very little noise. It's much different now. People just don't understand that pickleball is on a different level entirely, with a hard plastic ball and a hard racket. The noise signature is much sharper, and it goes on for eight, ten, twelve hours a day."
He says he never makes use of his yard, and the noise makes its way into the house even with the windows closed.
Burns brought with him some literature on the subject, quoting engineer Lance Willis, a Tucson acoustics engineer who claims that any pickleball court within 350 feet of a house would need noise abatement and that any court within 150 feet or less of a residence is "simply impractical."
He also complained of congestion from parked cars near the courts, leaving little room for residents to back out of their driveway and potentially endangering children.
Burns suggested the town establish courts elsewhere, especially given the growing interest in the sport and "commercial interest" surrounding it.
He urged council to find a way to halt all pickleball activities on the courts and said he'd consider legal action if nothing is done.
"I'm glad to see people having fun, especially older people getting exercise and fresh air and I don't want to hamper recreation, but I can't live with this anymore. We have noise bylaws for a reason and if the town of Okotoks cannot have concrete plans for a more appropriate location for pickleball by August so courts can be ready for next year, I am prepared to initiate a lawsuit. I have talked to a lawyer, but I hope that reason and empathy prevail, and it doesn't come to that. Don't wait for a judge's decision. Prompt action on your part will make a shutdown of this rapidly growing sport unnecessary."
He referenced similar lawsuits surrounding pickleball noise, specifically a case from June of 2022 where a court in Welland, Ontario ruled that six pickleball courts in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake were violating a noise bylaw.
Later in the meeting, councillor Brent Robinson raised a motion to inquire as to whether or not the town has reviewed the noise generated by pickleball courts to determine if they violate Community Standards Bylaw 19-10 or any other bylaws that might pertain to noise.