Post by Sarah Viehbeck, Chair of the GCA Health and Social Services Committee
In my capacity as Chair of the GCA Health and Social Services Committee, I am writing with an update (to the GCA Board, neighbouring Community Associations, and residents that have expressed concerns) on the proposed changes to the City of Ottawa’s noise bylaw, which came to the attention of the Glebe Community Association at Tuesday’s Board meeting. For those new to the issue, there is a proposed option in the City’s consultation document that suggests a change to the noise bylaw for special events held at Lansdowne and the Canadian Tire Centre from 11pm as is the case now to 1am. It should be noted that a number of other proposed issues in the proposed revisions to the noise bylaw are likely to have benefits to residents and serve to reduce noise. The noise bylaw is being revised as part of a broader City cycle of bylaw revision. The specific issues being proposed for revision, including Lansdowne, were the result of consultations with City Councillors.
The details are available in the discussion paper here: http://ottawa.ca/en/
A call to action – BY APRIL 30th: Participate in the Consultation
Inform yourself, share this issue with neighbours, and provide your feedback as soon as possible via this survey – it closes April 30th.
The survey is an opportunity to lend support and voice concerns depending on your views. A City consultation was also held on this issue, which the GCA promoted. About 22 people attended and, of those, about 20 with concerns about the Lansdowne matter specifically.
A summary of issues [with thanks to Carol McLeod for input!]:
The focus of comments from the GCA was the section on Special Events (events with over 500 in attendance, which can be up to 11 days in length – for example, Grey Cup).
I spoke about the considerable differences between Lansdowne and the Canadian Tire Centre – both venues are specifically mentioned in the proposed option. Lansdowne being nestled in a residential neighbourhood, located on water which carries the noise, and being an open air venue. We pointed out that Lansdowne and the Canadian Tire Centre were not comparable, because the CTC does not have residences nearby, whereas there are residences on the Lansdowne site as well as within 20 metres. It may be that the hockey area proposed for Lebreton will be comparable to Lansdowne so its important to get it right.
City officials spoke to data that for the most part special event permits (and related exemptions) are approved by Councillors, but that that is not always the case at Lansdowne. We suggested that that suggests that the system is working and that rather than offering a blanket exemption to events at Lansdowne that is actually an argument for the Councillor maintaining a decision-making role given his understanding of the local issues. We asked that approval by the Councillor continue to be a requirement for special events.
In additional to the “when” of noise, we also discussed volume. Noise is supposed to be maximun 55 decibels and below that after 11PM. Those that attended had a demonstration of noise decibels and expressed general opposition to increasing the allowed noise level to 65 decibels before 11. In particular, we protested lumping special events changes which seemed to favour relaxing the by-law regulations, in an omnibus noise by-law that seemed to be generally tightening noise provisions. I also pointed out that there was a shift in language in the proposed option from ‘special events’ (which are defined as more than 500 people) to ‘events’. We did not receive an answer about whether that was a deliberate shift in language.
It seems that Jack Astor’s has had conditions placed on its operation related to noise. Also, the city seems to be building anti-noise clauses into contracts for rental of the Horticulture Building. The city by-law officers promised to follow up measures, not precipitated by complaints.
A number of non-noise concerns related to Lansdowne (e.g., parking enforcement; traffic; increasing bar/restaurant presence vs. retail) were raised by some residents that attended. City officials paid close attention to our comments, even those that didn’t directly concern noise.
Our Councillor’s Position: Encourage him to lobby his colleagues!
I wrote Councillor Chernushenko’s office to seek his position and to get his support in more broadly communicating about these proposed revisions to residents and Community Associations. His response was:
“I am totally opposed to any noise bylaw changes that go beyond 11pm at Lansdowne. It is not the same as the CTC, and should not be put in the same category. It is an open air venue in the middle of three residential neighbourhoods and surrounded by seniors residences. People deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully in their own homes.”
We encourage residents to communicate with the Councillor about your views on these proposed revisions **AND request that he advocate to City staff, other Councillors and the Mayor about the concerns of Glebe residents about noise at Lansdowne**.
In addition to the Councillor, we have expressed to the City that proactive communication with Community Associations in areas to be impacted should be a priority.
Timing and Next Steps – MONTH OF MAY
Feedback from the online consultation and workshops will be combined with other studies and stakeholder consultations to develop a recommendations report will be on the website on May 11. That will go before the Community and Protective Services Committee, currently scheduled on May 18, and City Council on May 24.
For those interested in contacting members of the Committee, the list is here: http://ottawa.ca/en/
As always, the GCA will work to advocate for a diverse, sustainable and liveable community. We will raise awareness, advocate, and table our official position to feed into this process. We invited the City to join us at the May 23 GCA meeting, however this was not seen as good timing as it will be too late to offer input to the process with staff since it will be going to Council the following day.