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Woolwich looks to make changes to noise bylaw

A plan to ease some of the current restrictions in its noise bylaw has Woolwich taking the pulse of residents via an online survey.

Residents aren’t able to do home renovations on Sunday, for instance, and businesses aren’t able to play music from a patio speaker because that’s considered amplified noise. Since the pandemic has made both those things popular, township clerk Jeff Smith is looking to get feedback to see if some of those rules can be relaxed.

“For a while we wanted to take a look at the bylaws. I think there are areas for improvement. But also we’ve had an increase in patios and outdoor activities, specifically with the pandemic, so it’s definitely something that that we wanted to look at this year,” said Smith.

The township solicited feedback as part of the process.

“We were already looking at drafting an update to the noise bylaw. There are two proposals in the survey that we wanted to get public feedback on, and we will base that on how the bylaw’s written. We are hoping at this time to bring a report forward to council on February 28. So that would allow them to take their first look at the bylaw, provide any comments and perhaps approve it if they wish,” said Smith.

So far the township has received more than 250 responses to the survey.

“I’m hoping on the 28th we’ll be able to have a report in front of council that will give feedback from the public. If the vast majority of the public say ‘no, we want no residential renovations even by homeowners on Sundays,’ then I think you’ll probably see staff recommending that we keep it as is. Or on the flip side if you see a lot of people saying ‘yeah, we would like to kind of relax that and allow for those Sunday residential renovations,’ then you might see that be what we recommend.”

Those living or working in the township, as well as business owners, are invited to take the survey that will help determine if noise bylaws need to be changed to adapt to people’s needs.

“I think we’ve already seen more outdoor activities, whether it’s people enjoying their own backyards and having people over or the increase in restaurant patios and things like that. That’s definitely been an impact of the pandemic. And part of that is the associated noise that could come with that, so that’s the reason for prioritizing this.”

Currently, residents are not permitted to do any type of residential construction on Sundays. The proposal would change and ease those restrictions as home renovations have increased throughout the pandemic. The proposal wouldn’t lift restrictions on commercial contractors or developers to work on Sundays, however.

Along with the renovation issue, the survey is looking at the effects of what is called amplified noise.

“Let’s say you had speakers, like a Bluetooth speaker, that you would bring out to your deck on an afternoon, that technically isn’t allowed in our bylaws – it’s amplified music. So amplified music could be anything from a Bluetooth speaker to a professional setup at a patio, like a restaurant patio. We’re really trying to refine that,” said Smith. “We want to make sure that the community is OK with it and the sound is reasonable. We might find that people want to have a Bluetooth speaker in the backyard or the radio playing while they have their friends over.

“Those are the things I’d say we are looking at, we want to hear what the community has to say. And if there is support for that change then we can update the bylaw to allow for that use. Then we’ll also look at how we enforce that.”

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