Tori Sutton, Stratford Gazette
City council is willing to take a second look at the noise bylaw which restricts amplified sound in the downtown core after 11 p.m.
At Monday evening’s meeting, council – sitting as the protection to persons and property committee – agreed to refer the issue back to subcommittee for further discussion. The move went against the initial subcommittee recommendation to leave the bylaw as is.
The city’s current noise bylaw states “music instruments and noise making equipment” is permitted up to 1 a.m. in commercial areas. However, the same bylaw states the operation of any electronic device hooked up to loudspeakers – such as an amplifier – is only permitted until 11 p.m.
By that rule, only acoustic music is permitted after 11 p.m.
Several downtown business owners have spoke out in favour of having the time extended until 1 a.m. The move has also been supported publicly by the City Centre Committee.
On the flip side, at least one downtown accommodation provider has experienced problems with amplified music disturbing guests at night.
Arguing in favour of an extension, Coun. Kerry McManus pointed out university students now calling Stratford home are interested in a more vibrant nightlife.
“Having an 11 o’clock time limit ... I’m not sure how that’s going to go over with university students,” she said. “I’m trying to find a way to meet the needs of everybody, especially now we have a new demographic in Stratford.”
Coun. Bonnie Henderson agreed, stating she was in disbelief bar owners were not permitted to have amplified music after 11 p.m. on a Saturday night.
“The noise is what makes it fun,” she said, when it was noted unplugged music is permitted.
Coun. Karen Smythe initially suggested the 3Ps subcommittee would be open to possibly revising the bylaw in the future, but wished to keep it the same for the time being. After hearing arguments from other councilllors, she moved the successful referral motion to discuss the matter further.
Additionally, council approved a separate motion to stick with the status quo when it comes to musical instruments and the noise bylaw.
In June, two Blake Street residents asked council to consider restricting the use of musical instruments after a noisy drummer moved in next door. It was also suggested the city consider using equipment to measure decibel levels. According to background information, such devices are costly and would require additional staff to be hired and trained.
Complaints about noise from this year’s Relay for Life event as well as fireworks were also reviewed by staff. Only one complaint was received about Relay for Life, while it is commonplace for police to receive complaints about fireworks, particularly on long weekends and New Year’s Eve.