Some Questions On Proposed Noise Bylaw Changes Answered

Moose Jaw City Hall - File Photo By Roxanne Ashe - Virtual Interiors Photography

Moose Jaw City Hall - File Photo By Roxanne Ashe - Virtual Interiors Photography

With there being a lot of rumours and concerns in the community regarding the proposed changes to the Noise Bylaw and the Building Bylaw MJ Independent spoke to City of Moose Jaw communications director Craig Hemingway to help clear up some of the questions being asked.

1. What is the reasoning behind the proposed changes to the Noise Bylaw?

In his response Hemingway said the reasons behind the proposed changes came from identifying the potential need in mixed commercial/residential properties.

“This discussion is based on not having any guidelines for these types of buildings.”

In drafting the proposed bylaw the City looked at what was happening in other cities in relation to noise bylaws.

“Many municipalities do use decibel meters,” he said, adding “we did a draft bylaw. It is a mix between best practices and based on that research we drew up a draft bylaw…it is only a draft of what the bylaw could look like.”

The draft bylaw initially presented to Executive Committee did not contain potential clauses to institute the decibel approach city wide. Measurements will be made with an approved sound meter if the bylaw passes as it stands in its draft form.

There was a “motion to investigate if applicable in residential.”

Under the proposed changes to the existing Noise Bylaw in the shared commercial districts the City is looking at instituting a decibel level limit to measure noise in residential units which share a common wall or a party wall or the commercial establishment is flush with the residential unit.

The decibel limit proposed in the changes is 70 db(A) from 7 am to 10 pm and from 10 pm to 7 am the decibel limit is 60 db(A). The decibel limit is not tested in the commercial establishment or the source but what is registered in the residential unit.

2. Where will this sound level (in decibels) be measured? Will it be at the source (point of origin) or where the sound is heard (received) in the residential unit?

“It is where the sound is received…you can make all of the noise in your residence (or business) as you like as long as it is not disturbing others,” Hemingway stated.

“It is no different in how our bylaw currently works…the only potential change is it is in decibels.”

“The decibels will be measured at is in a home where it is heard and not where it is originating from,” he said.

The sound must also be heard and measured over a period of time and not just a few seconds.

3. Does this mean people will not be able to operate such equipment as lawnmowers, snowblowers and roto-tillers?

“No, the intent in this is not altering your regular day too day activities such as lawnmowers and snowblowers…people will be able to do their regular daytime activities.”

Those activities include things such as construction during the hours such activities are allowed to take place - presently 7 am to 10 pm.

“Everything has to be done within reason people will still be able to run lawnmowers, snowblowers and do their roto-tilling.”

“People are not going to be in trouble for mowing their lawns,” Hemingway stated.

4. How will this potentially help avoid problems in the future?

“The idea of this is to make it easier for everybody,” Hemingway stated adding more clearer rules in areas where there is mixed commercial and residential properties in the same building means property owners can more easily tell their tenants exactly what rules and how they apply.

5. Are the proposed changes already a done deal?

“We want to know what the public feels. There may be things we never thought of and the public may be able to point them out to us,” Hemingway stated.

To have your concerns heard on proposed changes to the Noise and Building Bylaws you have seven days to do so or up until April 11th at 11:59:59 PM to be heard. To be heard submissions can be made by email to planning@moosejaw.ca or sent via regular mail to:

City of Moose Jaw

Dept. of Planning and Development

228 Main St. North

Moose Jaw, SK S6H 3J8

6. How much of a response has the City received so far?

“There has been several, we are in the double digits.”

BACKGROUND

Under the proposed changes the City is looking at changing the noise bylaw from the subjective present definition where an officer must determine if it is unnecessary and excessive noise to an objective determination if the noise is excessive using an approves sound meter to make a measurement in decibels.

The changes came about following neighbourhood noise concerns raised in the 0 Block of High Street West between a group of residential tenants and a commercial tenant in an adjacent building. SEE RELATED - Boom Boom Base

The Bylaw changes will also include changes to the Building Bylaw making it mandatory for developers of residential units to soundproof the walls of residential units wherever they are flush with commercial property within the same building.

SEE RELATED - Friendly Neighbour Bylaw In The Works

HOW DOES SOUND WORK?

Sound is produced by energy which sets out sound waves at varying frequencies which are heard.

As the sound wave is driven by energy the energy dissipates as it strikes hard surfaces or by striking other sound waves or the sound wave energy finally dissipates after pushing against molecules in the air. Sound comes out in waves or sound pressure.

COMMON SOUNDS IN DECIBELS

Conversation or Speech at 1 meter = 60 dBa

Average home = 50 dBa

Quiet Bedroom at Night = 30 dBa

Noisy Lawnmower at 10 meters = 60 dBa

Potential for heart circulation disease at constant impact is possible = 65 dBa

Hearing damage possible after 40 hours per week = 90 dBa

A 70 dBa sound is twice as loud as a 60 dBa sound.

For an in-depth backgrounder read the report from the Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) which recommended noise levels be at 55 dBa outside at night and at 43 dBa inside a residence at night in a mixed commercial/residential district. The reports recommendation for Toronto at night is lower than the 60 dBa that is being proposed in Moose Jaw.

The TMAC report was written to not only establish acceptable noise levels but also to help arrive at the goal of creating Toronto into a world leading music city. The report called for a move away from subjective to objective measurements of sound by decibel levels to achieve this result.

SEE THE REPORT - TMAC Report

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