Friday, January 26, 2024

Downtown Noise concerns and bylaw interpretation return as themes from Monday council discussion period

The topic of noise in the downtown core once again made for some short discussion at a City Council session, the issue raised as ii has in past instances by Councillor Barry Cunningham who spoke to the topic on Monday evening.

To open the conversation, Councillor Cunningham returned to concerns related to enforcing the noise bylaw, noting that as he views it at the moment, if concerns go to court the city would lose in the courts. 

"It's been brought to my attention that enforcing our noise bylaw is very difficult if not impossible and I was wondering if we could get staff to take a look at that noise bylaw and put some teeth in it.

So that it identifies particular problems in the city like you know, the way it was explained to me. Unless its a particular like idling trucks or you know a party or something like that, if it ever goes to court were going to lose in court"

Mayor Pond observed how the topic in this instance has become one generated by one particular resident of the downtown core and observed that the bylaw could be tightened; but urged caution that there is always going to be a certain amount of downtown noise.

"You know, clearly this is an issue that has been brought by a particular citizen, around a particular issue; of which after investigation, he and he alone is the only one that seems to have any concern over it.

The neighbours around him don't, the businesses around him don't

And the noise level, is the noise level one would expect in an urban downtown core 24/7.  

It's not a residential neighbourhood  out in quiet part of town. It is a downtown urban core that has trucks and traffic and whatever.

So, we can tighten the bylaw to make it more restrictive but you've got to be cautious how you walk there, because  there's a certain amount of urban downtown noise that's just going to be and we're much quieter than most urban centres.

The Mayor's reference likely was related to discussion at the Council Session from January 8th which first raised the concerns this year over downtown noise, that related mostly to idling trucks in the downtown core.

City Manager Rob Buchan joined the discussion to note of the challenges to determine how much noise is too much noise and observed as to how a review of the bylaw could be taken on by staff to look for an easy fix.

"I understand the idea of reviewing the bylaw is with respect to ensuring that its regulations are enforceable. 

Not to actually increase, be more restrictive. 

For example, if the bylaw says you can't have any noise or noise that is too much. You know what is too much?

So if general principle is, if the bylaw is too vague the lack of certainty makes it unenforceable, you won't get very far in the courts. 

So if that is the intent of reviewing it, I think that we can try to fit it into our work program for this year.  

Knowing that we've  just added a bunch of items for the work program for this year, but we can certainly do that and see if there's an easy fix"

The Mayor expressed a concern over putting too much of a work load on the staff and reminded the City Manager to remind Council when that load was too much.

"That's a great answer, my concern always when we have these conversations is that we add to your work load. Which is a strategic workload  and I would hope that you take those requests and treat them strategically and let us know when they can't be done, or what you might have to drop to get that done"

Mr. Buchan did note they would look to see how much work would be required to address the noise bylaw concerns.

The current Bylaw was put in place in May of 1989, you can review the full document here.

The Full Discussion from the Monday Council Session can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive at the one hour fifteen minute mark.

More notes from the Monday session can be reviewed here.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely a continuing issue getting council to distinguish the signal from the noise. Has the basis of best practices. Adopt the guidelines and get on with it! Once council has finished reinventing the wheel, they will get started on reinventing the boat.