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Input sought for possible changes to noise bylaw

Noise complaint from Canadian rocker about dance studio generated review of noise and building bylaws

Amendments to the City of Moose Jaw’s noise bylaw would attempt to balance how loud downtown commercial operations can be with the comfort of nearby residents, says city administration.

The need to amend the noise bylaw arose after Canadian rocker Burton Cummings began complaining last September about noise from Dance Fitness With Kyra. Cummings lives in a residential building next to the dance studio, which businesswoman Kyra Klassen operates. Cummings visited the dance studio several times to complain about the noise, while he also called police and went to city council to have a zoning bylaw changed.

During its executive committee meeting on March 25, city council voted 5-1 on a recommendation to have administration proceed with public consultations about proposed changes to the noise bylaw and building bylaw. Administration would then be authorized to enact any potential amendments from those consultations.

The proposed amendment to the building bylaw would require soundproofing in separate mixed-use buildings that have walls flush with one another.

Coun. Brian Swanson was opposed to the recommendation. Coun. Heather Eby was absent from the discussion.

“It’s unfortunate that (the situation) escalated so quickly,” Klassen told media after the meeting. “I just hope everybody can walk away feeling at peace with this decision made, that fairness is brought to both parties.”

City administration does not believe the licensing bylaw is the most effective way to address this issue, Michelle Sanson, director of planning and development services, told city council. Changes to the licensing bylaw or zoning bylaw would limit the types of businesses downtown. It would also detract from the intended mixed use character described in the official community plan.

Instead, administration suggests combining the provisions in noise bylaws from the cities of Vancouver and Regina to provide a balanced approach, Sanson said. This would protect residents and businesses.

The City of Moose Jaw would borrow the wording from Vancouver’s noise bylaw, while it would borrow the noise level restrictions in the Regina’s bylaw. That bylaw says, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., the maximum noise level in residential zones is 60 decibels; in commercial zones and all other zones within 30 metres of a residential zone is 70 decibels; and all other zones is 85 decibels.

An administrative report explains that a shower is 70 decibels, a toilet flushing is 75 decibels, an alarm clock is 80 decibels and a snowblower is 85 decibels.

Moose Jaw’s downtown was designed to have businesses on the main floor and residential units on top, said Mayor Fraser Tolmie. The community is going through a cultural change where businesses want to start up downtown. Council needs to address this issue now to prevent future problems.

“I think this is a good opportunity … ,” he added. “No one wants to see these kinds of conflicts in our community. We have to take the high road to resolve them.”

Administration will begin consultations and bring back possible amendments in April, said Sanson.

The next executive committee meeting is Monday, April 8.   

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