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North Saanich looking into other ways to monitor pickleball courts

Commissionaires first accept, then withdraw from job to monitor controversial courts
North Saanich council has approved $3,000 for security to patrol court hours at the pickleball courts on Wain Road, but it is not clear when those security guards will be in place. (Black Press Media file photo)

It is not clear yet when third-party security will enforce the hours of play at North Saanich’s pickleball courts.

“It’s undetermined,” said Ben Martin, North Saanich’s director of infrastructure services. “I have to look at options going forward.”

Martin added later he is trying to get something into place for the rest of the playing season and he recognizes the frustration of some local residents when the players do not respect the times.”

Martin made these comments after Commissionaires Victoria, the Islands and Yukon, told Thorn Security that it won’t be able to lock and unlock the pickleball courts on Wain Road after councillors had signed off on a plan to monitor and lock the gates at the courts.

Thorn Security, which provides a number of services including alarm monitoring but not foot patrols for North Saanich, had reached out to Commissionaires Victoria.

Arvind Singh, manager of business development with Commissionaires Victoria, the Islands and Yukon, said the company had reached a verbal agreement with Thorn Security. But a week later in the middle of August, Commissionaires informed Thorn Security that it would not be able to take on the contract because of logistical reasons.

“We can’t tie up our vehicle in that part of (Greater Victoria), because we have alarm responses and we have other commitments,” said Singh. “Going over there and coming back…is not worth our time.”

RELATED: Professional security guards to patrol pickleball courts in North Saanich

Dennis Baggett, director of Thorn Security, said the company doesn’t perform patrols and was unable to find another company after the arrangement with Commissionaires fell through. “We reached out to five other companies in town and nobody can meet the demands of what they (North Saanich) want.”

Baggett said Commissionaires’ withdrawal was frustrating. “We told them the schedule we wanted,” said Baggett. “We asked them to bid it. They bid it and when we awarded it, they said they can’t do it.”

Martin said staff was surprised when Thorn Security informed the municipality that they could no longer provide the service.

“They (Thorn Security) are the service-provider,” said Martin. “Commissionaires were their sub-contractors. We provided times for opening and closing. We agreed on rates. We agreed that this would be a two-month trial. Then we waited. Then we provided them keys and then we waited. And then we received new information that they are no longer able to satisfy the agreement.”

Martin acknowledged that there was no formal contract between the municipality and Thorn Security.

“They (Commissionaires) told us that they could do the job,” said Baggett. “That is why we accepted it and then they told us they had staffing issues. This is what is happening all over the world. People are quitting, people are leaving without notice. It’s terrible.”

Martin said the courts are open in the mornings and the municipality itself does not have the resources to enforce the hours.

The courts on Wain Road have been the source of what North Saanich staff call regular public complaints about a variety of issues, including play after posted hours. The courts are open Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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