During the July 18th Committee of the Whole Meeting (COTW), council received a staff report on enforcement of the noise bylaw updated last fall. In the report, staff are recommending changes to the bylaw to increase compliance.
The bylaw will be coming to council on August 16 for enactment.
Staff are recommending council approve a new noise bylaw rather than amending the already existing one.
Staff recommend the following items be removed from the existing bylaw:
- Commercial land use, holiday and statutory holiday and industrial land use definitions as they are not terms used in the By-law
- The noise definition “sound that disturbs the peace, is excessive, or that is unwanted by or disturbing to persons”, as noise by-laws have been subject to charter challenges as being void for vagueness. The term “ring any bell, blow or sound any horn, shout or make any unusual noise or noise likely to disturb the inhabitants of the municipality” has been upheld by the court on a challenge, its recommended to incorporate this format in the general prohibition.
- The Administration section as its duplicative and dealt with in the Enforcement section
- The Regulations section as it contradicts and qualifies the general and more specific prohibitions in Sections 2 and 3
- The Prohibition of Sounds of Specific Origin Section as it is repetitive of sections 2 and 3
- Some housekeeping and minor wording amendments for clarity purposes in the Exceptions and Temporary Noise Permit sections.
Staff recommend the following items be added to the bylaw:
- A definition of “County” as recommended during legal review, “County” is a defined term in other by-laws such as Short-Term Accommodations, Canine, Littering, etc.
- Clauses have been added to the Enforcement and Right of Entry section with respect to a person shall not obstruction or hinder an officer, an officer has reasonable grounds may require name and address of that person and every person shall provide proof of identification to officer when requested
- Staff recommend including “indoor” to item 15 and 16 on Schedule A. Currently there is no restriction for indoor amplified noise, the previous By-law had a decibel limit for residential and commercial properties whether the noise originated from indoor or outdoor. Without this addition it will restrict enforcement abilities of potential noise complaints with respect to short term accommodations, businesses and other indoor amplified volumes deemed inappropriate as a result of officer
As outlined in the report, anyone looking to file a noise complaint after 7 p.m. would be required to direct their complaint to the OPP. Should the police be unable to attend the property while the noise violation is taking place, the complainant may submit pertinent details about the violation to bylaw enforcement.
The staff report presented to council identifies after hours enforcement as being problematic for the OPP, particularly in that they are not equipped with decibel readers, which the daytime bylaw enforcement would use to measure any noise bylaw infractions.
Councillor John Hirsch spoke to the discrepancy in enforcement between municipal bylaw officials and the OPP.
“I found the most interesting part of the report to be the discussion about enforcement, with our bylaw staff having an app on their phone to measure sound,” said Hirsch. “I suppose the disappointing piece is it doesn’t seem the OPP are necessarily on side with having the same enforcement capability after hours. We’re saying our bylaw officials won’t be available after 7 pm whereas the report admits most of the noise will be after this time. Could we, perhaps, have somebody from bylaw on call to have consistent enforcement?”
Bylaw supervisor Mike Kelly explained the OPP wouldn’t be using an app but instead an actual sound device meter.
“That aspect with respect to enforcement mechanisms is in conjunction with the policies of the procedure where we give parameters to staff for officer discretion that would be a tool under the procedure that they’d use the app when you’re dealing with a case to be before a judge and you need admissible evidence. The OPP wouldn’t be using an app, but an actual sound meter device,” Kelly explained.
While the bylaw changes are still in the discussion phase, as per Hirsch, the councillor noted he would “prefer a consistent approach”.
“I’m concerned we will have a different application for the bylaw after 7 p.m.,” he added.
Councillor Phil St-Jean expressed concern about the communication between OPP and the municipality regarding noise bylaw complaints.
“Is there an ongoing conversation with OPP about better reporting with regards to noise complaints as they pertain to STAs…and ensuring that info is shared in a timely fashion?” St-Jean queried.
Kelly informed St-Jean that data has been requested so that the municipality may follow up on the STA portion of the complaint.