Recently, we were kept awake for hours in the middle of the night by a very selfish person blaring music at a nearby house. The occupant would not open the door to the police, and we were rather discourteously informed by the dispatcher that, "This is not a police state," and they could not help us with the problem. At the bylaw office the next day, we met with a brick wall. They told us they would need at least one other set of neighbours, as well as ourselves, to keep a record of future noise for two weeks before anything could be done.
There are two immediate problems with this requirement. First, there is no telling when the noise may reoccur, or with what frequency, but if and when it does, it will again create enormous stress and loss of sleep for us. Second, and crucial to many noise complaints, is that we are unaware of any neighbours who can help us with the task of documentation, for a number of reasons including hearing loss, such noise does not wake them, or preference for noise themselves. If any other neighbours did complain to police that night, we are not able to locate them.
It is extremely important that the Municipal Act be updated to remove the requirement that a noise "disturb...the neighbourhood" before its perpetrator can be prosecuted. Only one complaint is required to enforce bylaws against commercial signs posted on residential property or illegally parked cars. The same must become true of illegal use of noisemaking equipment. Not only are we tormented by these troublemakers, but we are then marginalized for being the only ones who speak out against them! This is the message of the enclosed letter we are asking members to kindly sign and forward to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
In the longer term, we would like to see legislation enacted similar to the 1996 British Noise Act, which enables officers to confiscate the stereo or other noisemaking equipment used by repeat offenders to break the law.
Every letter we write to the powers that be, every complaint we make to the local bylaw enforcement office, every Right to Quiet Society brochure we distribute, all these actions make our side heard just that much more. We raise awareness of the issues slowly but surely.
Quiet is a precious and worthy goal. At the very least, our homes should be sanctuaries from the chaotic thumping and rumble and wailing characteristic of ever more public space! Sadly, this is all too often not the case. We will not give up, however, until our right to choose an absence of unnecessary racket is enshrined and enforced in all space we must frequent. Both public awareness and legislation are vital to this end.
It is my hope that you will be encouraged to fight on, each in his or her own way, by receiving this newsletter and knowing you are not alone - we are all in this together.
Fraser Valley Noise News:
Mr. George Evens, Chair and CEO of The Council Advocacy "For a Better Canada" is conducting an anti-noise campaign. Headquartered in Mission, BC, he can be reached at (604)826-7344 or fax (604)820-4255.
A wealth of information on the anti-noise developments taking place both in our country and around the world is available by subscribing (no charge) to the Quiet-List, an e-mail listserve forum generously funded and moderated by our society's member David Staudacher. To subscribe, send a message to email@example.com, with "subscribe quiet-list" (no quotes) in the message body; leave the subject line blank. Any problems with subscription may be referred to firstname.lastname@example.org. An unmoderated list is also available.
In addition, David maintains an Internet resource list of worldwide pro- quiet/anti-noise groups, which he makes available through the Quiet-List. For those interested readers without Internet access, many of the groups also list mail and phone contacts; please contact the Right to Quiet Society to obtain a copy.
Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Spring 2000
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