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a picture of four people playing pickleball on a court smiling

How Would You Like To Live Next To An Alarm Clock Clanging From Dawn to Dusk?

Okotoks man claims pickleball noise is ruining his quality of life.

There’s nothing quite like the sound of Spring. Birds are singing, children are laughing, and, for one Okotoks man, pickleball rackets are swinging.

Robert Burns claims the noise from a nearby pickleball court has ruined his quality of life.

Okotoks has six pickleball courts, all of which are located in Wilson Park. Unfortunately, Wilson Park is in the middle of a residential neighbourhood where Burns lives.

According to the town’s community page, these are the only pickleball courts available in Okotoks. Pickleball players can go to Hughes Park, but posts and nets are not provided there.

So Wilson Park is your best bet if you’re looking to get a game of pickleball going. This is great news for most residents, but not Burns.

“It has ruined our quality of life. You basically have to spend all your time inside with background noise on. Lay down for a nap, got to put a radio on,” Burns told CBC News.

Burns spent more than 20 years building his house in Okotoks, which he lives in with his wife. However, the sound of pickleball has made the couple think about moving.

But not before Burns takes the fight to pickleball.

a picture of robert burns with a pickleball court in the background
Robert Burns pictured with pickleball courts in the background Tom Ross | CBC News

Burns brought the issue to Okotoks’ attention during a town council meeting. He presented a report referencing Bob Unetich, an engineer and pickleball referee.

“Residents in homes located in a quiet residential area that are within 100 feet (30 meters) from pickleball courts are used to noise levels of 40 decibels (dBa), therefore the level of pickleball noise is 30 decibels louder,” wrote Unetich in Pickleball Magazine.

Pickleball sounds are around 70 decibels (dBa) at about 30 meters away from the strike of the ball. In comparison, 70 dBa is as loud as a washing machine or an alarm clock.

Unlike tennis, which is played with a mesh racket and softball, pickleball is played with a stiff paddle and hardball creating a louder smack every time a paddle hits the ball.

“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,” Burns told CTV News Calgary.

With residents playing pickleball as early as 7 AM, Burns doesn’t need an alarm clock! To compound Burns’ frustration, the cul-de-sac behind his house is packed with cars on busy days.

On Monday, the council passed a motion to work with pickleball stakeholders to measure sound from the courts and explore sound reduction options.

“I don’t want to see pickleball stopped, though…”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,” continued Burns.

A report is expected for June 12, 2023, but if nothing is done by August, Burns is prepared to take legal action.


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