Changes to the Carleton Place noise bylaw will help clarify the roles and responsibilities of town staff and residents, according to the town’s director of protective services Les Reynolds.
Reynolds told the planning and protection committee on May 2 that noise will be clearly defined as “sound that is excessive, or of such volume or persistence that it has the effect or potential effect of disturbing inhabitants,” while persistence will be seen as “continuing to exist or endure over a prolonged period of time continuously or intermittently for an aggregate period of at least 20 minutes out of any 60 minute period.”
For example, “If it’s a dog barking for 10 minutes, that’s just unfortunate, but if the dog goes on for half an hour that’s justified to complain about,” Reynolds said.
He further added that the term “plainly audible” will now mean “the sound in question can be easily detected without undue effort by a disinterested person with no hearing disability.”
Reynolds offered that “what to some people is a very vexatious noise is barely noticeable to other people,” so the new definition will assist in making a proper determination about the validity of a complaint.
The bylaw has also been updated to incorporate a growing number of multi-unit buildings. “Just because you can hear your neighbour’s radio playing through the wall, that isn’t grounds for a bylaw infraction,” Reynolds explained. “If you can hear it while you’re out in the backyard from his unit, then that’s a different thing.”
The biggest changes to the bylaw deal with enforcement and penalties for infractions. A new process outlines the steps by which noise complaints can be resolved, beginning with a notice being sent to the owner or occupant of a property from which the noise emanates, as well as to the complainant. While the complainant enjoys anonymity at this stage of the process, the bylaw states that “if the noise continues to negatively impact them, the town will require their involvement and cooperation to help bring closure to the matter.”
Complainants will be required to record in diary format the type of noise, how the noise is disturbing them, the location on their property when they were disturbed, information about the source of the noise, the time of the disturbance, and the duration of the noise. If there are at least 10 occurrences within a 30-day period, there will be cause to lay charges, but the 10 incidents must occur only after a formal complaint has been registered to give the offending party an opportunity to change their behavior.
The planning and protection committee approved the new changes, with the addition of recommending an increased fine upon conviction in the range of $125-$250.