The sport must continue.
It’s been just over a week since a justice of the peace placed the use of the Centennial Sports Park grounds for pickleball on probation for two years.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero says she is focusing on what comes next and finding solutions for the NOTL Pickleball Club.
“That’s the most important thing for me. ‘OK, we meet here, where do we go now?’ “Disero said in an interview.
“We have to figure out how we can accommodate pickleball and where we can accommodate pickleball. For this year, it may have to be indoors,” she said.
Disero said, as city leader, she wanted to focus on what can be done instead of ruminating on the outcome of the legal action.
She suggested several alternate locations for the courts: the former Virgil School on Four Mile Creek Road, Vineridge Academy on Niagara Stone Rd. (formerly Niagara District Secondary School), Parliament Oak, and the Croatian Community Center as starting points for an investigation. Staff.
But there is a second aspect of the situation that is important for Disero.
“We spent money to build a court, how can we use it? How can the community use it? It’s there, we paid for it and I don’t want it left empty,” she said.
Disero made several suggestions for use, including as a volleyball court, badminton court or for specialist tennis, a growing sport among senior citizens.
“Although I think we would leave the beach sand out if we were going to play volleyball,” Disero said, referring to a comment made by Coun. Clare Cameron at a council meeting on June 20.
“It’s a nice surface. It should be used for something that will not destroy the surface.
Disero wanted to assure the city’s many pickleball players that something will be done to address the loss of the courts.
“Council and staff will endeavor to try to help find alternative locations. I realize that the arena is not the ideal place because it is a concrete floor.
Disero said one of his immediate reactions after hearing the verdict last week was disappointment that city council hadn’t sooner passed a noise bylaw amendment that allows recreational noise from city parks. .
“It is unfortunate that the council did not change its rules last November or even a month before us, because I think that made the difference in the legal framework of the verdict.
“That’s just my opinion.”
The bylaw change was originally raised at a board meeting on April 25. He was defeated by a tie vote. Com. Gary Burroughs, Clare Cameron, Wendy Cheropita and Sandra O’Connor voted against the motion. Com. Erwin Wiens was absent.
As a result, the by-law amendment did not come into effect until the June 20 council meeting.
David Germain, a partner at Thomson Rogers and a specialist in municipal business and bylaws, said it was entirely up to the council wheelhouse to change the bylaw.
“It is the municipal councils that decide on the content of these regulations. They are the ones who have the responsibility to adopt these regulations and the power to modify them as they see fit,” said Germain.
“So it’s totally within their power to change the rules so to speak.”
Disero believes that a rule amendment would not affect the current ruling, but would prevent future cases on the issue.
But she also doesn’t want to give the impression that the city won’t address noise issues from city parks.
“If there’s a noise problem in a sports field, it’s something we can work to alleviate, then we should,” she said.
The Lake Report reached out to Terrence Hill, the attorney who represented the city during the case, for clarification on how the decision and the rule change would interact, but did not hear back by the deadline. .
Germain said he was unsure how a rule change would be affected by the probation order. But he strongly suggested going against the probation order is in no one’s interest.
“The contempt of court is serious,” Germain said.
One of the apparent key points of the case is the subjective nature of the settlement. Germain said subjective wording in municipal bylaws is common.
“You often see this sort of thing, especially in old noise bylaws where the norm or prohibition is something like ‘Nobody is allowed to make a noise that might disturb someone,'” he declared.
“And sometimes there are parameters around that, like you can’t make noise after 11 p.m. or it will disturb someone inside their house.”
“But that kind of subjective standard, yes, is very common.”
Germain said more detail in noise regulations is often to the benefit of residents trying to understand the parameters — and for enforcement.
He noted that even after the probationary period is over, the offense can still reoccur.
“If something was an infraction today and the rules are not changed (then) it will be an infraction tomorrow,” he said simply.
This means that once the two-year probation is over, if the regulations remained unchanged, the players could return to the pitches, but any resident could charge the city and the club with the same noise violation.
Disero also raised the question with the rest of the board about how the city can help the pickleball club find a new temporary home.
Council unanimously agreed that staff prepare a report on alternative locations and look at the different sports that can be used on the existing grounds.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, The Lake Report