Community group responds to noise bylaw review

Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) has been reviewing the proposed changes to the City’s Noise Control Bylaw in anticipation of Council’s final decision in late fall. We have identified several concerns regarding the proposed changes, particularly the following:

1) What prompted the proposed change to the Bylaw, particularly Recommendation 8, which states that the permitted period for Amplified Sound in Schedule Two of the Noist Control By-Law be updated to 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.? on most days, and 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday? What is the justification behind the extension of amplified noise in residential areas to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays? In reviewing the six consultations conducted by City Staff at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, including Residents’ Associations, individuals, the construction industry, and business groups, clearly demonstrates that there is little to no desire for any change to the current exemption times. Given this total lack of public support, what is the logic behind the extension of the allowance of amplified sound for the two days? This does not reflect the will of the people.

2) Some of the points raised in the presentation by Alexandra Schwenger and Sam Rogers, Director of Enforcement, on Oct. 14, 2020 are problematic: • Concerns with the online survey, such as: There was no limit to the number of times an individual could complete and submit the survey; the survey not being restricted to residents of Mississauga; an the wording of some of the survey questions, particularly Questions 5 and 6, being confusing and lacking context. • The survey of other Canadian municipalities only served to highlight the fact that none of these jurisdictions had up-to-date noise bylaws in place. Would it not be better to compare ourselves to cities that are getting it right; regardless of where they are? This could provide Mississauga with a potential roadmap of where it needs to go. MIRANET proposes that it is far better to present a vision of what a best-case scenario looks like (including costs), along with a timeline illustrating how we would get there, than an ill-considered Noise Bylaw. • It has been made clear that there is no funding to actually measure decibel levels, which means that there is no possibility of enforcement any time soon. Should this decision not be tabled until the City has the financial means to implement a robust enforcement strategy? Without the means for enforcement, the message being sent to the public is that our City is not serious about Municipal Bylaws and they can be flagrantly violated with impunity. • What is the purpose of these proposed changes? What is the outcome that City Staff hope to achieve? Will this simply add to the background noise pollution City dwellers have to suffer? Residents are constantly being inundated by noise, whether it be airplanes, cars, transit, construction, blaring music, or barking dogs. They are clearly looking to the City to rein in the level of noise pollution which is bombarding residents on a daily basis. Noise pollution is second only to air pollution in terms of harm to human health.

The Dec. 2019/Jan. 2020 consultations asked for impacts on human health to be considered in the proposed changes. We have yet to see this issue being addressed. • Should we not be asking ourselves if auditory signaling and amplified noise represent outdated technology, which in most instances could be replaced by something significantly cheaper and more widely accessible? Many groups (both faith based and secular) are using Internet technology, social media platforms, and apps to reach their audiences. Instead of implementing divisive bylaws with no hope of enforcement, would it not be more advantageous for the City to encourage the use of new technologies, thereby avoiding the need for illogical bylaws and unnecessary expenditures on the procurement of expensive equipment and the hiring of additional bylaw enforcement officers?

3) We have multiple concerns about the Oct. 2020 consultations: Two of the three consultations were marred by technical and administrative glitches that prevented engaged residents from participating in the process; technical glitches on Oct. 1st prevented people who had registered that day from participating; and the accidential cancellation of the Oct. 6th meeting, confusing residents. The City made no attempt to reschedule the consultations to address these process deficiencies. This sent a message to residents that their input and the principles of democracy were not valued.

4) MIRANET was looking forward to meeting with City Staff to give them the feedback received from our membership over the past ten months. The concerns and opinions voiced thus far have been thoughtful and considered; we are engaged citizens and taxpayers who would like to hear a logical defense of the ideas presented to us. We have waited patiently for the opportunity to discuss our concerns at the conclusion of the public consultation process and have asked to address Staff prior to their presentation and our deputation at General Committee on Nov. 18. Our request was denied. This is not accountability and transparency. Residents and Residents’ Associations must have the opportunity to review proposed changes prior to final submission to Council. If we can’t be convinced of the logic of these proposals, then perhaps they need to be revisited. MIRANET members have not just spent time filling in an online survey or spent an hour on one of the City’s virtual consultations.

We have gone above and beyond, as we always do, to conduct our due diligence. We have easily spent over 250-plus hours on this Noise Bylaw review, and to be told Staff has no time to listen to us is completely unacceptable. MIRANET represents many of the Ratepayers/Residents’ Associations of Mississauga, and is comprised of people who volunteer their time with no expectation of financial compensation. We are busy too. We hold down full time jobs; look after family, friends, and neighbours; and often volunteer at multiple organizations.

If we can find the time, so should City Staff. 5) Why is there such a rush to present this to Council on Nov. 18? City Staff have yet to hear any results from the proposed engineering study. Should we not wait to hear back from the experts.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
[email protected]

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