Noise Complaints Leave Pickleball Players With No Place To Play

It may be the fastest growing sport for adults in Canada, but pickle ball will not be played at the Manotick Tennis Club anymore.

The club had created four pickleball courts, enough to accommodate four games and 16 players at a time at the end of their row of courts. The courts were widely used as the popularity of pickleball continues to explode.

However, the clacking and popping of the hard plastic balls and the hard rackets was too noisy for some residents who live close to Centennial Park. Noise complaints were being made to the city, and the city has responded by shutting down pickleball at the tennis club.

CTV reported that City of Ottawa General Manager of Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services issued a statement on the pickleball ban.

“The City and the Club explored solutions that included reducing hours of play, testing lower-noise racquets and balls, and installing sound-absorbing panels on the fence that lines the perimeter of the courts. The modified play options were not seen as viable without significantly impacting play, while the panels proved to be costly and could present a safety issue since the fencing was not designed to hold up panels or withstand the sail affect that occurs during high winds that could damage or bring down the fencing.”

The Manotick Tennis Club had plans to build six pickle ball courts on the southernmost parcel of land in Centennial Park, adjacent to the Manotick Tennis Club parking lot. That piece of land is closer to the homes than the current pickleball location, so the plans have been shelved.

While tennis is a sport that has seen declining participation over the last generation, pickleball is a sport that have put rackets back in the hands of much of the adult population looking for recreational sports. The Manotick Tennis Club’s membership has doubled in the past five years, with a big reason being their offering of pickleball.

“We really are a victim of our own success,” Lori Gadzala, a board member with the Mnaotick Tennis Club, told CTV. “We had to cap our membership last year at 825 people and that left a lot of people on a waiting list. We worked really hard to create a community environment here.”

The city is working with the Manotick Tennis Club in finding a home for its pickleball players. One area being looked at is Alfred Taylor Park in North Gower. The city is also looking at moving the sport indoors to the arena surfaces in Manotick, Richmond and Osgoode. The arenas have no ice from April through August.

Councillor David Brown said the indoor option is not only weather protected but it also eliminates the noise program.

However, some pickleball players say the concrete surface may not be ideal for pickleball as it would be too slick. They also wondered why pickleball is being targeted by complaints when nothing has every been said about the basketball courts at the other end of the park, or the nightly softball games that have gone on at the park every night for the past 50-plus years.

Katherine Blake of Manotick was interviewed by CTV. She said she cannot hear pickleball games from her home, but can when she goes for a walk near the park.

“It’s deafening, really,” she told CTV. “It seems to anywhere you are in the park even if you are on the other side of the park you still hear it quite clearly.

“I have family living on that street, friends and young children, they couldn’t use their backyards because of the sound. You couldn’t stand to be out there. It’s just the ball hitting the courts and when the bats hit it, it just goes right through you.”