Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
All's quiet for now, but organizers of the 14th annual Relay for Life know that could change in the months leading up to the June 6-7 event at the Stratford Central secondary school flats.
The Canadian Cancer Society is again requesting an exemption to the municipal noise bylaw to allow for singing, use of musical instruments and amplification from 11 p.m. to midnight, and during a presentation to the protection to persons and property subcommittee on Wednesday, cancer society fundraising coordinator, Laura Pethick, acknowledged there is a local resident who wishes the event would either be moved to a different location or go unplugged.
But she said turning down the sound at the popular fundraiser could negatively impact the number of participants, and subsequently the amount of money raised for cancer research and services. A customer satisfaction survey done across Ontario found Relay participants want entertainment and activities. They also appreciate recognition over the loud speakers, particularly during the survivors' victory lap at the beginning of the event, when it's customary to announce the names of those walking who have beaten the disease.
"Sound does play a big factor in people's perspective of their event experience," Pethick said.
Noise is also an important part of the event following the luminary ceremony, where paper luminaries are placed around the track in memory or in honour of someone who lost their battle with cancer.
"It's a very emotional and important experience … we need an element of energy after that," Pethick said.
Before any noise exemption is granted, organizers will mail notices to homeowners who live within 120 metres of the Central flats advising them of the request and inviting comments.
After taking the same step last year, organizers received five written complaints, including one from a Douglas Street resident who also wrote several letters to the editor about the topic and addressed council on two occasions. About the same number of residents near the school spoke out against the location in 2012, the even't first at the flats after many years being held in Upper Queen's Park. They complained the noise was excessive and too loud for a residential neighbourhood.
Pethick said the plan is to have the last amplified live music at 11 p.m., and noted any performances after that would be acoustic. They will also be using radio transmitters and video screens to broadcast announcements and are going to try to limit the use of loud speakers.
"We do feel that we are addressing (people's noise concerns)," Pethick noted, "but there is still going to be a need for some amplified noise."
In a letter to the city, the cancer society describes Relay for Life as "a unique celebration of survival, a tribute to the lives of loved ones, and a night of fun, entertainment, friendship, and fundraising to beat cancer." The 12-hour non-competitive relay includes participants in teams of 10-12 taking turns walking, running, or strolling around the track from dusk until dawn.
"We would like to keep the entertainment going as long as possible into the night to help participants stay awake for this very worthy cause," reads the letter.