By Matthew Behrens
Carleton Place council has agreed to prepare a draft bylaw that will incorporate a series of new ideas to address the rise of noise complaints in neighbourhoods where air conditioners and pool pumps produce sounds that, while normal to some, are agitating to others.
While town staff conclude its current bylaw largely dovetails with those of similar municipalities, they noted that in some communities, the criteria for a noise violation can vary based on quantitative issues (measured by decibel levels) or qualitative ones that are subject to the interpretation of an investigating officer.
A new bylaw will be informed by the fact that limited staff resources may sometimes place the onus for resolving noise problems with the complainants themselves, who could be asked to document the type and level of noise over a period of time and be prepared to testify in court if needed. Other municipalities have recognized that mechanical systems like air conditioners and pool pumps are in fact sources of unwanted noise, and could be subjected to maximum decibel levels.
While Director of Protective Services Les Reynolds expressed interest in purchasing a decibel reader, he stressed that any new bylaw would have to provide an exception for generators being used in emergency situations. A new bylaw would not apply to noise heard through the walls or floors of multi-unit residences, where they would be subject to landlord-tenant legislation.