Whistler council voted this week to reconsider its policy not to have bylaw officers on duty during the evening and nighttime hours in an effort to better manage late-night noise complaints.
A motion was passed at Tuesday’s (Sept. 7) regular meeting to have municipal staff prepare a report on nighttime bylaw enforcement options and the associated costs of reinstating evening coverage.
The move was partly in response to a letter by longtime property owner Robert Hungerford about late-night noise at Lakeside Park. Hungerford wrote that municipal staff advised him to call 911 to report the noise issues, but the police told him he shouldn’t call 911 for “noise infractions.”
Mayor Ken Melamed said council decided eight or more years ago that instead of having bylaw officers on duty until 10 or 11 p.m., the cost of providing nighttime bylaw coverage should be redirected to allow for increased police presence. At the time, the RCMP said they would take care of noise complaints at night, but that “hasn’t materialized,” Melamed said.
RCMP have to prioritize calls, so if there’s a disturbance in the Village with a potential for violence, police would have to deal with that before handling a noise complaint, he said.
Councillor Ralph Forsyth said he didn’t realize until recently that Whistler bylaw officers are no longer on duty in the evening. Hungerford is one of “probably hundreds of people who feel the same way,” Forsyth said, and the municipality needs a plan to deal with repeated late-night noise problems.
Councillor Tom Thomson said not having bylaw officers on duty during the evening is “a gap in our coverage.”
Highway 99 repaving begins
In a somewhat unusual move, officials at the B.C. Ministry of Transportation sent a public letter to Whistler’s mayor and council advising them that the $2.57 million contract for the planned Highway 99 repaving work has been awarded to Alpine Paving.
The paving work from Function Junction to Lorimer Road was set to begin on Wednesday (Sept. 8) and wrap up in early October, Melamed said.
Because Alpine Paving was awarded the contract, and paving work is scheduled to occur at night, people who have now moved into Cheakamus Crossing will be sleeping next to an operating asphalt plant for the next month or so.
“We’re going to work with Alpine Paving to do whatever we can to reduce the disturbance in the area,” Melamed said after Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re confident that Alpine Paving will do what they an within the flexibility of the contract.”
A noise mitigation strategy includes minimizing back-up beepers on trucks and reducing the use of engine brakes from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., plus restricting crushing to daytime hours, he said. The strategy will “help ensure the RMOW noise bylaw is respected,” he said.
Melamed said the ministry’s letter is likely in response to previous questions from the public about plans for the repaving and how noise issues would be managed if Alpine Paving were to receive the contract.
“The ministry is very aware of the municipality’s interest in this,” he said.
Work is scheduled to take place Mondays through Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and from Fridays and Sundays from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. No work is scheduled on Saturdays.
Dog restrictions eyed
People who use the trails around Green Lake in the Nicklaus North area, and those who allow their dogs to run off leash there, could soon see some restrictions to access.
Council voted this week to protect the area, called the Fitzsimmons Creek Fan municipal park, as important habitat for shore birds and migratory birds that use the area. A public engagement process will be initiated this fall to get feedback on how human and dog use of the area can be managed to help protect nests and other important bird habitat.
Heather Beresford, the municipality’s environmental stewardship manager, said she doesn’t want to predetermine the outcome of the public process, but some options to help protect water fowl and shore birds could include fencing, closing the area to dogs during critical nesting periods, enforcing leash regulations for dogs or public education.
At least one public workshop will be scheduled and municipal staff members are already in discussions with Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) on how to deal with dog use in the area, she said.
Though municipal bylaws require all dogs to be on leash in the area, the park has become an “unsanctioned dog off-leash park,” according to a staff report by Beresford. Bird nests located in shrubs in the area are being destroyed every year, she said.
The sandy delta where Fitzsimmons Creek flows into Green Lake is being protected under the Whistler Biodiversity 2010 program. Rare birds recorded in the delta include the snow goose, green heron, Baird’s sandpiper, horned lark and many others.