In a little over a month, a court in Welland is expected to rule on a Niagara-on-the-Lake woman's complaint about noise from the town's outdoor pickleball courts.
We understand the repeated “cloppity, clop” noise of a pickleball paddle striking a plastic ball – like a Wiffle ball, which is sometimes used for baseball practice – can get on one's nerves and even be annoying.
And while we are not going to adopt the stance of many online commenters and keyboard warriors (“Just move!”), we don't believe the evidence we heard presented to Justice of the Peace Mary Shelley is sufficient to prompt the permanent shutdown of the outdoor courts.
We're not going to play judge and pick apart the complainant's case but we don't think it should succeed.
Meanwhile, moving the pickleballers inside the nearby arena while this plays out in court seems like a solution suggested by a town lawyer trying to mitigate risk. That's unfortunate.
It also appears that the wording of the town's noise bylaw needs to be improved.
Perhaps the complainant's testimony that she has endured three years of “torture” is indeed real to her.
However, in a growing town and with a housing development abutting a sports park – no matter who was there first, in this case it was the residents – there are bound to be disquieting and annoying sounds that some of us would rather not put up with.
Tuning it out seems the simplest alternative, but perhaps that's just not possible for everyone.
Maybe there is some sort of mediated solution available (better sound barriers or quieter paddles), but as the litigation has been going on for more than a year, that doesn't seem in the cards.
We've never played pickleball (though we'd like to) but we have seen and heard it played. It's a fun sport and good exercise.
Shutting it down because of one person's complaint is overkill. Can't we all just get along and try to find some middle ground?