Even though Electoral Area D’s director said it’s been “a disaster” having a noise bylaw in place for his region, Susie Gimse would still like to see one developed for her Area C.
The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board adopted amendments to Area D’s noise bylaw at Monday’s (May 28) meeting despite the difficulties Moe Freitag said he’s encountered for having the legislation in place.
“(Dealing with noise complaints) probably burns up one-third of my time and there’s no effective mechanism to enforce it,” said Area D director Freitag. “It’s a disaster, and part of the problem was lack of consultation with the electorate.”
Of the SLRD’s four electoral areas, Area D is the only one with a noise bylaw, though one has been in development for Area C for a couple of years. SLRD staff was given direction to continue exploring a bylaw appropriate for Area C.
Freitag’s comments, coupled with a staff report, sparked a long discussion at the board table addressing the pros and cons of enacting noise bylaws, including the challenges and costs associated with enforcing them. However, most directors seemed to be of the opinion that a bylaw at least gives the SLRD the tools to deal with noise-related issues.
In an interview following the meeting, Area C director Gimse said the discussion left her “with a lot to think about,” including enforcement options.
“At the end of the day, when you consider some of the challenges we’ve had here in Area C, I think it would be good to set some parameters and regulations,” said Gimse. “But I’m open.
“The discussion today left me with is that if we do move forward with a noise bylaw for Area C, fines are perhaps the best way to enforce it.”
Freitag noted that the Area D bylaw also saw residents of different communities within the region having different opinions on what should be considered unlawful noise. Gimse said an Area C document would ideally reflect the nature of her constituency.
“Maybe the standard bylaw we have in place (in Area D) isn’t the answer,” said Gimse. “Recognizing that this is a strong agricultural community, we have to respect the right to farm. But then again, we do have a number of large events that occur and we know they sometimes impact neighbourhoods, quality of life and the opportunity to have peaceful enjoyment of your land. We’ve seen that now in a number of locations.”
Events bylaw to be revamped
A draft bylaw setting out criteria for special events held in SLRD electoral areas was sent back to staff for reworking after the board determined it placed too many requirements that would be difficult for smaller, community-run events to meet.
The current bylaw, enacted in the 1970s, is triggered when events have 500 or more participants. The draft seen Monday created three classes based upon event size to establish SLRD requirements. Directors’ concerns centered on the ‘Class 1’ criteria, which represented events of 300 to 500 people.
Applications for Class 1 events would require a $5,000 security deposit, which directors asked staff to delete before further consideration, as well also requesting a further review of the insurance requirements for smaller events.
“This really discourages people from taking initiative,” said Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, whose comments were echoed by Gimse.
“Usually the smaller ones are community events in nature and this would become problematic for some and prohibit some from happening,” said Gimse.
The board also directed staff to investigate issues of transitory events that may take place over multiple jurisdictions. Gimse used Slow Food Cycle Sunday of an example of such an event, since it begins in the Village of Pemberton but has activities extending into Area C.