Neighbours say bakery concerts in Haines Junction, Yukon, too loud and proposed bylaw won't help

A sign welcomes visitors to Haines Junction, Yukon, in June 2022. Two neighbours of the Village Bakery in the community say weekend night summer concerts are becoming disruptive and a new proposed noise bylaw won't fix the issue. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)
A sign welcomes visitors to Haines Junction, Yukon, in June 2022. Two neighbours of the Village Bakery in the community say weekend night summer concerts are becoming disruptive and a new proposed noise bylaw won't fix the issue. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)

Two neighbours of Yukon's Haines Junction Village Bakery say the volume of some summer concerts are disrupting their ability to use or enjoy their own properties — and they don't believe a new proposed noise bylaw will help.

Daniel Sharpe lives across the street from the bakery with his wife and two toddlers, while Valerie Drummond operates two rental cabins nearby. In separate interviews, both said there's been an increase in the number of loud acts playing at the bakery in the summer, to the point where Sharpe's family is unable to sleep some nights and Drummond has had cabin guests complain or back out of bookings.

"Our blackout curtains would be vibrating against the window frames, you could feel the bass coming through the house and that was in the bedrooms with all the soft surfaces," Sharpe said.

"And on the front porch... you couldn't hold a conversation. It was that loud."

Sharpe and Drummond said they're not opposed to the years-long tradition of the bakery hosting outdoor concerts on Friday, and more recently, Saturday evenings during the warmer months, and that the majority of performances aren't loud enough to disturb them.

However, they said the bakery would typically host "coffeehouse music" in the past, and there's been an uptick in louder bands and performances that go later. They said conversations with the bakery owners and municipality haven't been productive, including a suggestion the concerts be permitted so there's a hard-end time.

Sharpe said his toddlers have health issues and losing sleep because of loud concerts was harming them, while Drummond said her business, which is also mostly active during the summer tourism season, was suffering.

"We've made it really clear from the start that we're not looking to end the music nights... We're here to moderate them, and all we want is a reasonable sound level and a reasonable shutoff time," Drummond said. "And this new proposed bylaw offers neither of those."

'It's all about being good neighbours'

Haines Junction's proposed noise control bylaw passed second reading at a special village council meeting in late December.

The latest draft includes a section about "amplified sound" with a limit of 70 decibels outdoors or 50 decibels indoors from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 60 decibels outdoors or 45 decibels indoors otherwise. Another part describes an exemption permit that would allow up to 85 decibels.

According to an entry about noise measurement under the health section of the Quebec government's website, 50 decibels is the volume of a washing machine; 60 decibels is a "normal conversation" and 70 decibels is the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner, which would be considered "disruptive when on the telephone."

Drummond and Sharpe both said they thought even the non-exemption decibel limits were too loud, and that 11 p.m. was too late for the higher limits.

Sharpe also said he was worried people could take advantage of the "very generous guidelines."

"What [council is] doing is leaving their residents wide open to other abuses by people who are being inconsiderate with outdoor concerts or outdoor band practices or large parties," he said.

The new proposed bylaw does not name the Village Bakery but Drummond and Sharpe said they feel it was created in response to their concerns.

Haines Junction Mayor Bruce Tomlin, in an email to CBC News, said he was too busy to provide an interview but wrote that the village held two public hearings and took written submissions before drafting the bylaw, adding "all comments and submissions have and will be taken very seriously."

"When this bylaw is implemented, our hope is that it will better serve all community members when it comes to excessive noise in our community.  Council realizes this may require potential amendments or slight changes in the future," Tomlin wrote.

"It's all about being good neighbours."

A third reading for the bylaw hasn't been scheduled yet.

'It's just not that loud'

Village Bakery co-owner Rhonda Powell, in an interview, said that she supported the creation of the bylaw because it would offer certainty for everyone.

"We just want it to be fair and whatever they decide, we'll abide by," she said.

While she was aware of the concerns about the volume and duration of some summer concerts, Powell said she felt conversations about the issue had become overly-confrontational and the complaints were overblown.

"It's just not that loud," she said, adding the bakery had sound professionals mixing the performances and keeping an eye on the decibel levels. She also said that most performances end around 9 or 9:30 p.m. and that she and the other bakery co-owner had "no interest" in going much later because they have to be up early to open in the morning.

"It's music for an hour and 45 minutes, you know, after the band takes their break and all that… I don't think it's unreasonable," she said.

Drummond, however, said she would invite anyone to stand by her rental cabins during a loud concert to understand the impact. She recalled attending a public hearing where one speaker suggested people with concerns "should lighten up during the summer months… because the rest of the year is quiet."

"It was like a slap in the face," she said.

"[Like] you should just suck it up because this is such a popular event."