The Town of Okotoks is looking at increasing options for pickleball by introducing indoor pickleball courts to the Foothills Centennial Centre

In April, a resident living near the Bob Anderson pickleball courts presented a petition signed by his neighbours complaining of the excessive noise

Council voted to direct town administration to look into ways to reduce the noise from the courts and to measure the noise.

Pickleball courts appeared on their agenda again at their latest meeting on June 12, where council was presented a report on the noise generated by the sport.

A Sound Level Meter Application was used to measure the noise, and it indicated that play on the courts does seem to generate about a 20-decibel increase compared to the ambient sound when the courts weren’t in use.

The report says that a meeting between the Town and pickleball stakeholders was held on April 28, where a few options for noise reduction were discussed. Those included reducing the hours of play, monitoring noise levels at the courts, looking into sound abatement solutions, and facilitating indoor pickleball.

Play time at the courts has already been reduced. They were formerly available from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and are enow open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., which reduces play on the courts by 21 hours a week.

The resident who had complained about the noise was appreciative of the change, Parks and Recreation Manager Christa Michailuck told council.

“I did meet with the complainant that attended council a while back and provided the petition and did go through some of the options we were looking at. He certainly felt that it was a positive step in the right direction, that the clubs were willing to reduce the hours of play.”

Sound abatement options were included in the report, specifically mechanical acoustic barriers, plants, and making use of sound-reducing balls and paddles.

Another option, which council ultimately voted in favour of, was introducing indoor courts at the Centennial Centre. Town administration estimates three to four courts could be set up in the hall if its partitions were removed.

Michailuck told council the presence of courts at the Centennial isn’t likely to affect existing uses and bookings for the facility.

The Anderson courts would still be available, though local pickleball clubs would be required to allocate some time to indoor play.

Potential costs include lighting and flooring for the courts. A report including a breakdown of the estimated costs for recommended is expected in July.