QC’s noise bylaw tabled after comments

  • Mar. 10, 2011 3:00 p.m.

In contrast to the silence received when Queen Charlotte has asked for comments about other municipal matters, the village’s new noise bylaw has raised a bit of a ruckus. Seven written comments on the bylaw (representing at least 27 people) were included in the March 7 council agenda and two residents came to the meeting to speak on the matter. None of the submissions opposed the bylaw, in fact the two residents present said they were comforted that a process for dealing with noise complaints will exist, but suggestions for amendments were made. For example, two residents wanted exemptions made for the Community Club, Howler’s, the Legion, the Teen Centre, Spirit Square and the industrial area. Others wanted the times changed. The draft bylaw proposes weekdays between 11 pm and 7 am as quiet times and weekends from 11 pm to 9 am. Some wanted all the days to have the same quiet hours as they did not consider weekends as special. Another group wanted to see the quiet hours changed from 10 pm to 8 am on the weekdays. Still others were concerned that roosters and other animals not be vilified, noting they were an asset to any neighbourhood. Council reflected on the comments. Chief administrative officer Bill Beamish said most of the agencies listed for suggested exemptions were already exempt, as the bylaw does not come into effect for one-off events, such as might take place at the Community Club, the Legion or Spirit Square. Mr. Beamish talked with Bernie Howlett at Howler’s and he did not want his business to be exempted from the bylaw. Mr. Beamish also offered to amend the bylaw to give later hours to a licensed premise on weekends and Mr. Howlett also declined. The industrial area is also already exempt. As for roosters and other animals, the bylaw is complaint driven and neighbours are encouraged to resolve any issues on their own first. If this does not work, a mediation process will be made available. “If it ends up in court, the process failed,” he said. Mayor Carol Kuleha said the SPCA will be interested in situation where animal noises are cause for a consistent complaint, as that would suggest some sort of neglect. When the hours were discussed, councillor Kris Olsen asked that the weekends be changed to allow noise until 12 midnight. He said the Teen Centre, where he works in the summer will be in non-compliant without the change or he’d have to shut the place down and hour earlier. “It gets people out on the street where we don’t want them,” he said. Councillor Olsen made a motion to change the morning hours to 7 am throughout weekends and weekdays and midnight on weekends. The motion failed. Councillor Leslie Johnson said the hours as written in the bylaw were a compromise. “I’m willing to live with it the way it is,” she said. Councillor Gladys Noddin suggested taking Lisa Pineault’s suggestion about adding the word “unreasonably” to the bylaw. As per “…any noise which “unreasonably” disturbs or is liable to “unreasonably” disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment comfort or convenience of individuals or the public.” After discussing this change the second reading of the noise bylaw was tabled to the March 21 meeting in order to seek legal advice about the impact of that change. Councillor Noddin did not think that was unreasonable. “At least we could answer (Ms Pineault’s) concerns.” The draft had already been amended to allow the operation of machinery for work undertaken outside the prohibited hours if the a permit was sought from the village office. Betsy Cardell, who polled roughly 20 people in her neighbourhood about the bylaw, was disappointed that council did not consider her suggested changes to the times. She made a point of speaking with young and old about the bylaw, especially after hearing Councillor Olsen speak disparagingly of “old” people at the last council meeting. Mayor Kulesha apologized for not speaking more specifically to her suggestions, but said the hours have been part of an ongoing discussion in the bylaw deliberations and are a compromise. “It’s not going to satisfy everyone,” she said.

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