Nighttime bylaw officers needed to control noise 

Cost and effectiveness will be subject of report to council

The municipality needs bylaw officers working at night if it's going to control late night noise around the town, according to Councillor Ralph Forsyth.

He said he has heard from numerous property owners who deal with late-night noise on a constant basis, which is an unfair burden for the community. Forsyth says it's something council needs to deal with.

"It's an issue. This is why people pay our salaries and this is absolutely a municipal issue. I refuse to keep telling people, 'Oh, we'll work on it.' I want a report on how we're going to fix it," he said.

Currently, it's up to the RCMP to deal with noise complaints once bylaw officers' shifts are done around 6 p.m. but the agreement hasn't been working perfectly.

"The RCMP have to manage multiple priorities," Forsyth said. "They're all out catching bad guys. If you have violence in the village, they have to go to that. If you have vandalism happening, noise complaints drop to the bottom."

He added: "Our constituents should not drop to the bottom. They should be top of mind. I understand, if there's a fire or something crazy is happening, you'll go to that first, but we need to be more responsive."

Forsyth made the motion in council last week for municipal staff to prepare a report on nighttime bylaw enforcement options and the costs. It was supported by council. Forsyth said there are at least two ways to pursue this plan and now council is waiting for staff to return with the report that will outline how much it will cost the municipality.

Councillor Tom Thomson supported the motion, wanting to know why there are no bylaw officers at night.

Forsyth's actions were inspired in part by a letter from Robert Hungerford, a longtime property owner, who has been plagued by late-night noise at Lakeside Park.

"I've heard from another friend who lives down there that it's crazy at night. People are making so much noise and these families can't sleep," Forsyth said, adding that he also has an issue with late-night noise from a house up the hill from his own.

"Either you have better enforcement of it or there are regulatory tools if the house is being rented properly," he said.

He said the RCMP can respond to noise complaints but can't enforce zoning regulations, such as a property owner doing nightly rentals in a house not zoned for that type of accommodation.

Councillor Chris Quinlan remembers when bylaw officers used to work the village at night.

"There were definitely issues with that," he said. "I believe that a number of the officers went to the Justice Institute and got training specifically in handling issues, so I think it's important that this council has the full background on what is involved in bringing night-time bylaw enforcement into the village."

Forsyth said in a perfect world, enforcement of noise complaints would work like it was envisioned around eight years ago, when council decided that they would lean on the RCMP to enforce noise complaints after bylaw officer shifts had ended for the day, in order to save money.

"But if we can find some kind of low-cost solution to enforce it, that would be appropriate," Forsyth said.

 

 

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