RQM noise bylaw passes first reading

·3 min read

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council passed the first reading of a new noise bylaw at its meeting on Dec. 14. However, despite the proposed bylaw being on the council’s agenda for much of 2021, there are not a lot of changes to the original document which was created in July 1997.

“We heard from people that they didn’t like what staff proposed to council. The public had their say,” said RQM Mayor Darlene Norman.

She reminded, however, that the bylaw is still only at its first reading stage and that members of the public can view the document and further contact their councillor or Norman as mayor and have their thoughts known. A second reading and possible adoption of the Bylaw Respecting Noise will take place Jan. 25, 2022.

One change that is proposed is to update the terminology, taking out references to gramophones, for example. Another proposed amendment is to extend quiet, overnight time by one hour, changing from midnight to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A third change was to make that a truly quiet time, so that people making any unreasonable noise could be fined. The original bylaw just addressed the use of a public address system, phonograph, gramophone or radio at an unreasonable level during those hours.

A fourth change was upping the fine for contravention of the bylaw. Originally the minimum fine was set at $100 with a maximum of $1,000. The updated amounts are a minimum $500 fine and a maximum $10,000 fine.

At its regular meeting on Feb. 23 of this year, council requested that staff prepare a new noise bylaw with significantly more details and updated language. This was completed and presented to council for discussion and potential adoption at the April 27 meeting.

At this meeting, council gave first reading and it was publicly advertised that it would be brought forward to the second and final reading on May 25. Working on the feedback they had received, municipal staff updated the bylaw and attached a Schedule ‘A’ addressing specific wants and needs put forward by council members and the general public.

However, before any discussion at that meeting, council passed a motion to refer the issue to an ad hoc committee, which was to include three councillors, one person from each district, the bylaw officer and Chief Administrative Officer and input from the RCMP.

The new committee met on three different occasions to discuss the new bylaw and review 71 pages of public feedback, both for and against the proposed new bylaw that was completed by the staff.

Upon review, the committee felt the current bylaw was adequate with some minor updating and Schedule A was taken off the table.

“In the end, the members of the committee weren’t all for it or against it,” said Norman. “They did meet in the middle and came to a consensus though. They recommended that the current bylaw be amended rather than adopting a more comprehensive bylaw.”

Along with the changes, the ad hoc committee also addressed some of the common issues that they heard from members of the public while reviewing the comments.

Points addressed included noise concerns associated with machines on the water. However, the provincial government regulates inland waterways while the federal government regulates ocean waters and harbours.

Other issues addressed included fireworks, which are regulated by the federal government; motor vehicle noise and off-highway vehicle issues, which are addressed by the RCMP; and noise from dogs, which is addressed by Municipal Bylaw No. 3 Respecting Dogs.

The complete bylaw can be read online or at the municipal administration building.

If the council adopts this bylaw, it will be sent to the province to designate certain sections as enforceable through the issuance of summary offence tickets. This process normally takes 12 to15 months. Until that time, any infractions will require immediate court action through long-form summons and the ability to simply issue an out-of-court settlement fine.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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