UBC plans to build basketball court in Wesbrook after previous cancellation of project

UBC is once again planning to build a basketball court in the Wesbrook Place neighbourhood after it abruptly withdrew the project application last November.

The previous project was withdrawn after three Wesbrook Place residents voiced their concerns about the levels of noise that would be generated from the basketball court, as well as whether the proposed location was convenient for community members or not. Responding to the feedback received from the first development permit application, the University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) submitted a revised application to UBC Campus and Community Planning in January.

The new basketball court will be located on a currently vacant lot at the northwest corner of Webber Lane and Birney Avenue, an additional 30 metres away from the nearest residential buildings as compared to the proposed location in the initial project from November.

“Nine different sites were looked at in the neighbourhood but ultimately, this site came forward again because of its proximity to other recreational opportunities, and it’s a site that won’t be developed for likely up to ten years,” said Karen Russell, the development services manager at UBC Campus and Community Planning.

The UNA decided to pursue the basketball court project again after electing more Wesbrook representatives as new directors at the end of November 2021. The association also realized that the three people who previously complained — they all live in the same residential building — were not actually against the idea of a basketball court in the neighbourhood as long as it was not right next to their building.

“So in that light, when we got the process going again, we, as a Board, decided that … we would ask the designer about mitigating factors, primarily location and noise,” said UNA Chair Richard Watson.

The UNA also hopes to move forward with this project because of the recreational benefits it would offer to the Wesbrook community.

To address concerns about the potential noise levels of the basketball court, the UNA has commissioned a third-party acoustical study that will help objectify the decision making process.

“UNA has a noise bylaw so it sets the limits of noise levels in daytime and in nighttime, so we’ll be looking to see how the acoustical measurements measure up against the noise bylaw,” said Russell.

As part of its public consultation process, UBC Campus and Community Planning is holding two virtual public open houses on April 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and is accepting online feedback on the project until April 27.

“I’d encourage people to communicate with us, participate in the public open house if they can and if not, give us feedback on our website,” said Russell. “This is the only way we can get a feeling for whether the basketball use in this location is something that is supported by the community, and it’s really important for us to understand that.”

“Personally, I think it’s a great project and I’m hopeful that it will benefit the community,” said Watson.