Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sound and Fury

So, there has been a little fury over the draft noise bylaw that Town staff proposed at last week’s General Committee meeting.

You see, the Municipal Act allows for Towns to pass bylaws to prohibit and regulate noise. Most people accept that it is in the public interest to regulate noise and noise levels to preserve, protect, and promote public health, safety, welfare, and peace and quiet.

The existing Noise Bylaw was enacted in September 1981 with a very minor revision (to change the penalty clause) in February 1993. While it is a comprehensive bylaw, I believe it contains two major drawbacks.

First, the bylaw uses a map to delineate between the rules in two areas – residential and agricultural. As you can imagine, the Town has grown considerably in the last 30 years and the map is out-of-date. The map does not include residential growth areas like Timber Creek, Timsdale, Chestnut Ridge, or Martha Court.

And, because it is based on a map, it is not a “living” bylaw. What do I mean? Well, the proposed bylaw does not use a map, but rather relies on properties that are zoned Residential (in any of their forms) in the zoning bylaw. If approved, all residentially zoned properties would need to adhere to rules for the “Residential Area.” If a property’s zoning changes, the rules for that property change.

Second, the existing bylaw makes no allowance for noises produced on commercial or industrial properties. That’s largely because it only has two areas – residential and agricultural. In contrast, the proposed bylaw has two classes – residential and non-residential. The non-residential (termed “all other areas”) includes all other property classes like agricultural, industrial and commercial. As you would expect, noise is tightly restricted in the residentially zoned properties. The proposed bylaw allows more latitude in other areas.

The new bylaw removes some antiquated provisions. For example, the regulation of “snow making equipment” is removed since Lookout hasn’t had a ski run for many years.

In addition, since society is more environmentally conscious now, the proposed bylaw allows a maximum of 30 minutes for commercial vehicle idling in non-residential areas; it would ban such idling in residential areas.

Please note that the bylaw is only a draft. It has not been passed.

In fact, Council is looking for your feedback and input by March 1 to develop an appropriate bylaw. I would encourage you to review the draft at and I look forward to your constructive ideas.