Town to seek resident and business input on noise bylaw

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As part of its bylaw review process, the Town of Huntsville will be seeking input from local businesses and residents on proposed changes to its noise bylaw.

The changes are designed to make it clearer what constitutes a violation of the bylaw.

One section in particular, which currently reads “…excessive noise, which disrupts the normal living or working environment of a person at a point of reception…” was deemed to be too subjective and could allow “an unreasonable complainant to potentially argue that any noise that is being heard at any time of the day is bothersome,” noted a staff report presented to General Committee on May 30.

In the updated bylaw, that section would be removed, and others would be revised to remove conflicting or confusing provisions.

Other proposed changes include:

  • an updated pet noise provision that would count “continuous barking” as an offence, defined as “persistent sound made by any dog that occurs for an uninterrupted period of ten minutes or more, or on a sporadic basis of fifteen minutes or more in any thirty minute time period.”
  • an exemption for special events if a valid permit has been issued, which would allow for noise during specified and approved times provided notice is given. (All of the existing exemptions have been carried over from the current bylaw for construction, demolition, sirens associated with emergency services, emergency measures, audible pedestrian signals, and uses with site plan approval.)
  • allowing yelling, shouting, hooting or hollering at sanctioned sporting events, which was not previously permitted.
  • an increase in fines to $175 or $250, depending on the offence.

The Town’s Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer, Andrew Stillar, said that his department plans to hold one-on-one meetings with representative commercial and industrial businesses, as well as two public meetings to gather comments from residents.

“We want to make sure that any changes reflect the values of the citizens in relation to their tolerance of noise,” he said.

Councillor Nancy Alcock said that she’d like to see some flexibility in the process to allow for changes based on public input, and both she and Councillor Jonathan Wiebe suggested engaging with business owners on how to mitigate noise.

Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano asked that parameters for the updates be clearly communicated, and Councillor Jason FitzGerald wanted to see the wording of the final changes “very straight-forward and I’d like to see them on the Town’s website for everyone to see so there’s no confusion. I think that would be advantageous for bylaw, council, and all constituents.”

Committee Chair, Councillor Brian Thompson, asked what would happen if a site plan differed from the noise bylaw. The Town’s Executive Director of Development Services, Derrick Hammond replied, “Presumably the site plan permits the use and the noise bylaw is regulating levels of noise, I would have to talk to our solicitor about our ability to go back and alter site plans. You raise a really good point.”

The noise bylaw will be the first to undergo public consultation, with others like the clean yards bylaw to follow at a later date.

None of the changes will be completely set in stone. “We are going to be going out hopefully on a continual basis to educate with respect to our bylaws,” said Hammond, adding that issues that arise through that process may result in further discussion and review.

At the meeting, Town staff also shared plans for an annual public awareness campaign on bylaws and their enforcement.

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11 Comments

  1. Rob Millman on

    It would be a good idea if the Town purchased a meter to quantify the noise. I believe that any noise > 90 dB can cause brain damage. I can attest to that from far too many rock concerts attended (in my misspent youth, and alas, still).
    .
    BTW, in the pet-noise provision, “continuous” probably should be amended to “continual”: even pets have to take a breath occasionally.

  2. Although some progress was made during mayor Doughty’s term in regard to the fairness of how the noise bylaw was implemented the problem still exists in the bylaw officers inability to respond to these situations when they most frequently accure. Barking dogs and loud parties generally are an issue after business hours or on weekends and this has been a source of frustration for resident’s in the past. No bylaw is worth anymore than the paper it’s written on unless our bylaw officers have a means to enforce and that’s the key issue here. With increased workloads our great team of bylaw officers have so much to deal with already.

  3. Lynn Montgomery on

    I believe here should be a decibel level imposed in the Algonquin Theatre. I have stopped going to many of the offerings because most shows are just too loud. It is just not necessary.

  4. Ron Murdoch , on

    Natural noises such as dogs Roosters and human voices even when shouting should not be curbed as it is a natural occurrence, the noise abatement should only apply to artificially or electronically produced noise at excessive volume There is far to much government intrusion in people’s life these day in all forms, telling some one that they can’t yell with their natural voice is a intrusion on their rights and giving one citizen ( the complainer ) rights over another

    • Bill Beatty on

      The human utterances at 1:30 in the morning can be extremely annoying at lakeside properties on warm summer nights when windows are open….It is very difficult on some occasions to differentiate between pain and pleasure when alcohol is involved….Human voices/ noise should not be exempted anymore than fireworks past 11:00 PM…Speaking of offensive looking properties ; there are several on a short section of Brunel Rd. From the Cemetery area to Riverside School… Disgusting !

  5. EmmersunAustin on

    That sharp piercing high decibel racket heard from passing motorbikes needs 2 b examined. Definitely affects the mind’s operating stasis…

    • I agree, EmmersunAustin. Also, letting motorcycles sit and idle on their driveways for minutes before roaring off is a source of a lot of noise pollution in the neighborhoods.

  6. Signs should be posted on Ravenscliffe Road between the OPP station and Huntsville Fuels banning the use of engine brakes. Other towns in Muskoka have posted these signs for years now.

  7. Terry McCaffery on

    I wish Huntsville would post some signage at town entrances asking motorcyclists to refrain from revving their engines within town limits. Just yesterday, I witnessed/heard 2 motorcyclists stopped and waiting to turn down Summit Centre Drive with both constantly revving their engines which were extremely loud. This occurs all the time within the town and it is not needed. They can make as much noise as they wish as long as it isn’t within the town limits. We have signs advising truckers to refrain from engaging their compression air brakes-why can’t we have similar signs for motorcyclists asking them to refrain from revving their engines!

  8. There are more important issues and violations taking place then worrying about noise bylaws. If we could only enforce the disabled parking in the town of huntsville. The number of people abusing the parking is out of control. The 2 local taxi companys especially parking to wait for people while in the stores is getting ridiculious. Im tired of the drivers being rude and not giving a care. Its time to hurt them in the pocketbook.

  9. Kathy Henderson on

    Sorry Ron I can’t agree with the barking dogs. Maybe you have never lived beside a home where the dog is outside in their backyard and is barking constantly. It’s enough to make you go mad. Keep the dog in the house if your gone all day and your dog is a barker. Some might disagree with me but you can buy a bark collar that doesn’t hurt the dog but it does stop the barking. It’s worse in the summer. Normally a rooster only makes noise a couple of times a day, not continuously . I live just out Brunel beside a couple who didn’t hook up to electricity so I get to listen to a noisy generator all hours night and day. TheI house is above mine so I get the full effect of the constant noise which I put up with. There’s no way I could stand listening to a barking dog all night and day. It is extremely ignorant of the dog owner to expect others to put up with that. An occasional bought of barking if someone approaches the owners house is normal but not the constant barking. I vote for a fine on that and every visit you have to make for the same reason the fine should increase. Three fines and you lose your dog. By the way I have always had a medium to large gdog and small dogs as well. I trained them to curb the barking. And I didn’t have to use a bark collar to do it. Just saying nothing infuriates me more than constant barking.

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