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'It's deafening': Okotoks man doesn't relish living near pickleball court


An Okotoks man says the noise from a nearby pickleball court is so loud it might force him to move.

Robert Burns says he spent over 20 years building his home on Mountain street, a quiet tree-lined street on the north side of the town.  

Now, he says rising noise levels from the court behind his home are ruining his quality of life.

"We can't sit out here in the yard anymore," he said. "Inside, you have to have music on or some kind of background noise."

"It goes straight through the windows, and if you want to lay down and have a little nap or something, you’ve got to turn the radio on."

The pickleball court is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and Burns says it is often in use that entire time.

Robert Burns complains the pickleball courts near his Okotoks home are too loud. Unlike tennis, which is played with a mesh racket and soft ball, pickleball is played with both a hard racket and a hard ball, making it much louder.

"Even one or two paddles is loud. It's the tone of it, the hard paddle and the hard ball, (the) plastic ball, is a very annoying sound," said Burns

 "When you get a dozen of them on there, it's deafening."

On Monday, Burns appeared before Okotoks town council where he called for the community to move the pickle ball courts to a setting further away from homes.

In his presentation, he quoted pickleball referee and engineer Bob Unetich, who wrote an article in Pickleball Magazine saying pickleball sounds are typically 70 decibels at about 100 feet (30.5 metres) from the strike of the ball.

In the article, Unetich noted typical residential noise levels are about eight times lower (40 Db).

Robert Burns complains the pickleball courts near his Okotoks home are too loud. Burns also pointed out to council that in other jurisdictions where similar concerns have been raised, they have been settled through the courts.

"I don't want to see pickleball stopped, though," Burns said.

"In an Ontario case, a  judge put a lock on the courts immediately, and the town was scrambling to try to find a place for pickleball as well.

"I hope this town doesn't get to that point, where a judge has to intervene and shut things down with nowhere to go for the pickleball courts."

Okotoks does have a noise bylaw, but at the Monday’s meeting, councillors heard that no noise testing has been done near the pickleball courts. 

During the meeting, councillors committed to studying the noise and working with pickleball stakeholders on a mitigation plan.

That report is due back at town council on June 12. 

Burns says he has consulted a lawyer but has not filed a suit against the town.

He says if nothing is done to quell the noise by August, he will have to reassess his options. Top Stories

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