By-law to douse noise?

London city council has given the thumbs up to a new noise bylaw for the city. The vote by council was unanimous with only one city councilor, Susan Eagle, not present for the meeting and vote.

The new by-law includes a litany of prohibitions. If you like to pump up the volume while cruising around you can't have it too loud as the new by-law states that it can't be heard more than eight metres away from the point of reception, meaning your vehicle to someone else's ears. Also, if you have an animal and you live in a residential area you could be slapped with a fine if the noise coming from them is persistent and once again is “clearly audible at a Point of Reception in a Residential Area at any time”, and those are just some of the many prohibitions put in place under the new noise by-law.

One key sticking point from previous public participation meetings on the issue has been the fine structure for repeat offenders of this new by-law. For a first offence, the minimum fine is $175, but on the second offence the minimum fine starts at $500 and escalating up to a maximum of $10,000. Councilor Paul Hubert is the chair of the city's environment and transportation committee and said that someone charged with a second offence under the new by-law wouldn't likely receive the maximum amount, though the new fines will get people's attention.

“A $175 would get my attention if I was a student. I think people are going to have to really take notice, and there is some room for discretion in there and by-law is going to look at that and see how they can work on that with students,” said Hubert.

At the most recent and brief public participation meeting regarding the new noise by-law, the Fanshawe Student Union brought forth their concerns regarding the fine structure after the first offence in the by-law. John b. Young, operations manager for the Fanshawe Student Union said this affects everyone.

“Two noise complaints in the course of a year could cost a citizen of London close to $700 and I think that's excessive. It's not just hitting the pocketbook it's really hurting students in their educational field for one or two mistakes,” said Young.

Ward Three councilor Bernie MacDonald whose ward takes in Fanshawe College and heavily populated student areas around the college agreed with the fine structure under the new by-law, as he said the previous fine structure didn't deter people.

“You got to hit them in the pocketbook and that's where it's gonna hit them and maybe it will wake a few people up and realize what they're doing,” commented MacDonald. “There has to be something put there so it will curtail some of the problems we have been having.”

In the past MacDonald has been outspoken in his calls to have a satellite police station near Fanshawe College in place to deal with unruly student behaviour around the college, but those calls have so far gone unheeded.

The new by-law most likely will impact student partiers the most, but Hubert said he doesn't mind people having a good time.

“What students have to realize is that they are part of a community now. It's ok to have a party, it's ok to have a good time, but there are limits and boundaries to that,” said Hubert.

Landy Riopelle is a Fanshawe student who lives near the college and agreed that the new noise bylaw is a good idea, but does not agree with the range of fines that the by-law puts in place.

“The amounts vary too largely. I think that it should be much lower or have set amounts for set decibels,” said Riopelle.

For more information on the new noise by-law you can check out the city's website at ca