London City Council is looking to up the wattage on loud Londoners by instituting amendments to the city’s noise bylaw.
The changes call for stiffer penalties for first time offenders, quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. in residential neighbourhoods and restrictions on drivers who play loud music in their cars.
The proposed changes would also see fines for a first-time noise offence ranging from a minimum of $175 to a maximum of $5,000 — which is absolutely unreasonable.
The penalty is the same as that for setting a fire in public — a bylaw violation that is much more dangerous and hazardous to public safety than excessive noise.
These severe fines should be assessed to repeat noise offenders instead of first-timers who might reform after a warning. If an individual has repeatedly ignored requests to reduce noise, they should be punished. However, it is senseless to expect a student to pay a fine in the thousands of dollars for playing their music loudly at 9:30 p.m.
Furthermore, any fines levied by police should be based on a noise level measured with a decibel reader instead of neighbour’s grievance. There should be standards by which fines are assessed rather than leaving it up to arbitrary measures.
Also, the city already has a noise bylaw in place which has been hardly effective at curbing noisy parties and loud revelers passing through residential neighbourhoods after a night on the town.
Although instituting stiffer penalties may curb some of the noisier student parties, it does not address the issue that often by the time the police arrive on the scene the commotion has died down.
Additionally, the bylaw should allow for the acquisition of a permit for special outdoor events that generate a lot of noise. As long as area residents are informed of an occasional impending event within a reasonable amount of time, this should not be a problem.
Large outdoor festivals such as the London Ontario Live Arts festival, Rock the Park, and university programming such as Homecoming and Orientation Week are events that attract thousands to London, generating money for both the city and local businesses.
If Londoners would like their city — the 10th largest metropolitan in Canada — to be mentioned in the same breath as Toronto or Montreal, then they must continue to support and evolve large outdoor events.
Finally, all citizens of London have to take it upon themselves to exercise a higher level of courtesy and respect for their neighbours.
Noise bylaws come as the result of negligence and disregard on the part of citizens and everyone should do their best to make London a comfortable place to live.