Lake Country residents take the conversation outside after gallery time had reached its limit during the Lake Country council meeting on July 16, 2019. (David Venn - Lake Country Calendar)

Pickleballers deny cursing at teen during Okanagan sport court confrontation

Shoreline Park has been the site for basketball, pickleball and bickering

The Shoreline Drive sport courts have been the site of another community snafu after residents in the surrounding neighbourhood alleged that some users harassed their children.

The main incident came when one pickleball player murmured “f—k you” to a 15-year-old boy, parents alleged.

Bob Hodgins, one of the pickleball group organizers, said the people who he played with knew nothing about such an incident and that “everyone was just absolutely stunned that someone would make that accusation.”

“We have had people video taping us while we are playing — looking for any sort of thing to irritate or rally us or whatever it is and we’re not biting it,” Hodgins said.

On Friday, July 26, a few children around the area went to use the sport court to play basketball and one child was taken to learn how to ride their bike.

Accompanied by a parent, the children asked the pickleballers to take down one net to share the court, Hodgins said they gave up one side of the court and that was the end of their conversation.

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Hodgins even said that quite often, some of the neighbourhood kids who use the sport court play pickleball with the group, who is mainly comprised of retired and semi-retired residents.

But according to Kal Buterman, an outspoken neighbour who resides behind the sport court, there is more to the story.

Buterman’s son was on the court with a basketball, alongside Renee Crump who was trying to teach her four-year-old how to ride a bike. They said when they asked for the court, there was resistance, with some of the pickleballers telling them to play somewhere else.

After tensions rose, Buterman claimed that his son’s basketball went into the pickleball court and when he went to grab it, that’s when the slur was made.

A recent article published by the Calendar sparked over 100 comments in the Lake Country BC ~ One Community Facebook group and made intensified by this accusation.

“A line has been crossed,” Donna Chisholm-Buterman, mother of the son who the slur was directed to, wrote. “As an adult, you should be ashamed of yourself… I taught my children respect so he chose to ignore (the) comment. The courts are for everyone.”

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Caroline Lasnier said the courts are always busy when her 12-year-old son wants to play and he comes home sad and wants to play on the computer instead.

This event, in addition to the District of Lake Country council’s July 16 meeting where 19 pickleball players attended to ask for the development of more courts, have added to growing contentment between the players, neighbours who deal with the noise and their children who wish to use the court as well.

Their request was that two additional courts be placed at Shoreline Park, which would include posts, nets and chalked areas.

“This will not impact other groups such as basketball, hockey, cycling or drawing,” Hodgins said when addressing council.

During that council meeting, another pickleball player said the group mostly plays Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m.

However, Hodgins recently said that they would play up to five or six times a week between 9 and 11 a.m. and occasionally some evenings as well; now they play in other areas as well to try and “monitor” their playing time at Shoreline Park.

There is a 30-minute time limit posted on the sport court in order to manage everyone’s time on the court. Some would suggest that the rule isn’t being followed or enforced and that perhaps, the pickleball group should become a registered club.

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Council recognizes that the rule is not being followed; Mayor James Baker said some of the pickleball players are “adamant” that they should have priority of the courts most of the time.

“We built it for younger people to be more active—and older people too—but not for excessive use by one group,” Baker said.

“We are trying to keep it as loose as possible,” Hodgins said, noting that they are not a club, but rather a group of semi-organized players—with up to 80 participants, Hodgins said.

Listed beneath the sports and recreation clubs tab on the District of Lake Country’s website is a pickleball group tab with Bob Hodgins’ email linked to it.

Baker has been battered with phone calls from residents, according to Karen Miller, communications officer for the District of Lake Country.

“Council has lots of priorities,” she said. “If someone wants something done tomorrow, that’s not always the way that it works with local government.”

But Baker himself said it is a priority to resolve the conflict of the sport court usage.

Hodgins maintained that pickleball is a great community sport and they are trying to include everyone into the game because it is a sport that all ages can participate in.



David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
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