Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Council Listened, Then Approved New Noise By-Law

After the input by hundreds of residents, the hours of discussion at meetings, and the months of work by staff, it was a little odd that you could hear barely a sound when Council adopted the new Noise Bylaw at our regular meeting on July 19.

As you know, the Municipal Act allows Towns to pass bylaws to prohibit and regulate noise to preserve, protect, and promote public health, safety, welfare, and peace and quiet.

The previous Noise Bylaw was enacted in September 1981 with a very minor revision (to change the penalty clause) in February 1993. While it comprehensively covered all manner of noises, it also contained a major drawback.

The old Bylaw used a map to delineate between the rules in residential and agricultural areas. As you can imagine, the Town has grown considerably in the last 30 years and the map was out-of-date. The map didn’t include residential growth areas like Timber Creek, Timsdale, Chestnut Ridge, or Martha Court.

In contrast, the new Bylaw is more a living document because it relies on the Zoning Bylaw. If a property’s zoning changes, the rules for that property change.

Council sought feedback from the community. We received more than 50 letters, a couple of petitions, and a dozen presentations at a public meeting. Two major concerns were brought forward: 1) the proposed 9 PM restriction on “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, and singing”, and 2) the proposed restriction on using a snow blowers or plows before 7AM.

Rest assured, Council fixed the Bylaw in both of these instances. First, staff admitted that the 9 PM restriction was an error and Council moved it back to 11 PM to match other restrictions (like loud music). Council also agreed with the vast majority of residents and removed any restrictions on the time of day to remove snow.

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

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

On behalf of Council, I thank everyone that participated in the process and provided advice and feedback. Working together we developed a far superior Bylaw that should serve the Town well for many years to come.