An outdated noise bylaw has caused an ongoing grievance for one Port Hardy resident.
Tami Kernachan, who wrote a Nov. 13 letter to mayor and council about “Noise Regulation Bylaw No. 949, 1996”, found that the town’s bylaw is over 20 years old, after having received two letters by bylaw enforcement. Now, after receiving a third letter warning of a $250 fine for each complaint she has decided to bring it up to Port Hardy council.
“I received two letters that identify my making noise using a leaf blower to maintain the boulevards that abut my property,” she wrote in her letter to councillors. “I was very distraught to receive the latest letter that stated I would be receiving a $250 fine for each occurrence of using my leaf blower,” she added.
She noted that she uses the leaf blower during the day to clear fallen leaves from her property and the drainage ditches. “When I questioned why I was receiving this noise complaint – I was told that the enforcement of bylaws is ‘complaint driven.’”
After what could be her feeling of being singled out, she added “every person using a lawnmower, power saw, power tools, outboard motor, gas weedeater, log splitter … would be breaking the noise bylaw. The fact that (one) person complains about my use of a leaf blower for yard maintenance is (not fairly) applying the bylaw,” she said. The district would be “overrun with nuisance calls,” she then mentioned.
Her specific request to council was to “add a time frame for the quiet zone so that it can be fairly applied to all citizens in this community.” Currently, the bylaw does not indicate any time frame for what is called the quiet zone, which is a time and place, typically residential, when noise is kept to a minimum.
In response to bylaw enforcement’s third letter, she has now kept a log of the days, times and duration of when she uses the leaf blower. “I am happy to share that information with you (council),” she said.
Kernachan claims that Port Hardy is the only community on Vancouver Island which does not have a time frame for a quiet zone in residential areas.
“It is my responsibility,” she referenced the bylaw, “to maintain the boulevard that fronts my property. I have been maintaining that property for 24 years.” She hopes her delegation to council along with her letter will encourage Port Hardy council to update the noise bylaw.
The noise bylaw does offer a time frame for quiet zones for construction, which spans from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. on Sunday). The minimum fine for violating the noise bylaw is $200. The last known amendment to the noise bylaw was made on Sept. 25, 1996, after having updated the previous bylaw from 1989.
Council may also authorize bylaw enforcement to use what is mentioned in the bylaw as a “decimeter” or a noise dosimeter to measure the sound levels after receiving a noise complaint.
The Town of Port McNeill offers a time frame in their 2006 noise bylaw, which limits noise from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. for residential or commercial activities.