Noise Bylaw Fails To Pass Unanimous Third Reading
Changes to the Noise Bylaw as a proposed solution to Downtown noise problems drew one step closer but it was not without opposing expressions of opinion.
At Monday evening's meeting of Moose Jaw City Council the updated Noise Bylaw 5580 was up for approval by Council and ironically it drew a little noise.
The bylaw was intended to rectify noise concerns between commercial and residential tenants in mixed zone areas in the Downtown. The need for the changes to the Noise Bylaw arose out noise complaints from a group of tenants against a dance fitness studio on the same upper floor level but in adjacent buildings.
As part of the process the City called for submissions from the public regarding the changes. The proposed changes and the incidents were debated at Council and referred to by Mayor Fraser Tolmie at the time as a “Good Neighbour” measure.
Although the bylaw changes had a majority of support from Council there was a lone voice that broke the silence.
Councillor Brian Swanson spoke out against the changes calling them unnecessary and when accompanied by proposed changes to the Building Bylaw increased costs for residential development in an area of the city where there was little activity.
“All of this arose out of one specific incident that I believed showed the system worked. And we responded with a whole bunch of paperwork and more bureaucracy when the process actually functioned the way it was suppose to,” Councillor Brian Swanson said.
Councillor Swanson said when combined with the required installation of soundproofing under the building code it was adding significant costs.
Under the proposed changes to the Building Bylaw developers must install soundproofing where there is adjoining walls between residential and commercial developments. The onus of installing the soundproofing will be responsibility of which development came last.
If residences were to be developed after a commercial development then the residential developer would be responsible for the soundproofing. If the commercial development came after the residential units then the commercial developer would be responsible for the soundproofing.
“And we are adding a significant cost that I don't think anybody recognizes the costs involved.”
“It all comes back to the old adage individual case makes poor law. We had a whole pile of paper generated over something that actually the existing system worked,” Councillor Swanson said.
On the other side of the issue Councillor Dawn Luhning said she did not want the issue to end with the feeling the present system worked correctly, as Councillor Swanson may have wanted, but in fact the system had failed.
“To say it was one incident is incorrect. To say that the system worked is incorrect. Because for it to go on as long as it did there really was no resolution to be frank and honest for either party,” Councillor Luhning stated.
“It didn’t end well for either party and there were more residents than one including the business involved.”
The impasse between the residential residents and the business made the changes necessary, she said.
“I take exception to that I was aware of the problems going on and tried my best to figure out how to resolve it.”
Councillor Luhning said the changes to the Noise Bylaw were developed with input from the Moose Jaw Police Service and Administration to help prevent it from happening again.
“It didn't end well with anybody involved in this. If you just have the conversation with those involved in this they will all tell you it did not end well,” Councillor Luhning said.
The amendments to the Noise Bylaw also include the addition of the use of decibels measured by a sound meter in making the determination in laying charges. Under the changes to the noise bylaw 70 decibels is the loudest noise level from 7 am to 10 pm. The level is measured not at the source but in the residence. From 10 pm to 7 am maximum decibel level is 60 decibels.
The changes to the noise bylaw will not to interfere with regular activities such as snow blowing, lawn mowing or roto-tilling.
Police will still be able to lay charges without the use of a sound meter as the provisions for unnecessary noise are still available under the bylaw.
The changes to the noise bylaw will have to wait until the next meeting of Council as they failed to receive unanimous support for the Third Reading. In order to pass all required three readings of a bylaw in one meeting Council must vote unanimously to do so.
In a vote of 6 – 1 Councillor Swanson was the lone vote opposing the changes to the Noise Bylaw.