Rideau-Vanier tops the list of noise complaints per year, according to Thamar Spitzer’s analysis of Ottawa 311 service calls. The 3,399 noise complaints in 2016, are four times the average complaints of other wards in Ottawa.
When it comes to reporting noise complaints in the capital, “the city isn’t as effective as it should be,” says Councillor Mathieu Fleury of the Rideau-Vanier ward. “In my mind, it’s very unfortunate.”
Although the number of Ottawa-311 complaint calls, originating from Rideau-Vanier, have gone down this past year, more than two-thirds of these calls were incidents of loud music.
The bylaw says that music that disturbs others between 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on a weeknight, 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday until noon, is considered a violation. Violations can also occur as a result of a shouting, musical instruments, radio, TV, dog barking, car alarms, machinery and aircraft noise. A noise level fine in Ottawa can cost anywhere from $400 to $10,000.
In hopes of reducing the number of Ottawa-311 noise complaint calls, the Town and Gown committee, founded by Fleury, has put pressure on the City of Ottawa. The Town and Gown committee is a joint effort between university students, community members, and local leaders.
The policy change creating a reverse onus situation in Sandy Hill—largely a student community in the Rideau-Vanier ward—has led, “neighbours to be more respectful of one another,” says Fleury. Instead of a bylaw officer filling out a report that a noise complaint ticket was issued, the officer has to file a report stating why there wasn’t a ticket issued if the complaint originates from Sandy Hill.
The Town and Gown committee runs activities during the orientation week when many University of Ottawa students return for the school year. In this year’s Welcome Week Walkabout, Fleury and his team knocked on over 200 residence doors for what Fleury says is an early warning system.
“It gives an opportunity for the advisers to speak to students,” says Fleury. “To get them to understand the importance of maintaining a high quality of life for an area.”
The committee which was founded five years ago, launched a noise complaint website that, “more effectively tracks and facilitates noise complaints,” says Fleury. The ‘Noise in Sandy Hill’ website has been up for almost a year now and caters to residents that have already called Ottawa-311.
Fleury says it’s a double-sided coin. While community efforts to reduce noise pollution have been considerably successful, “there is a higher risk factor by some residents in reporting the noise,” he says.
“You can only call so many times before you become the problem,” says Christian Marcoux, a reporter for Perspectives Vanier. “I’m clueless as to why there has been a decrease in noise complaints,” he says.
Marcoux, who’s been working in the ward for the past 15 years, says, that the luxury of complaining about loud music existed only when the ward was safer.
Suggesting that there’s a correlation between noise and crime, Marcoux says, “You might not complain about the noise if you got a drug dealer on your corner or an arsonist in the community.”
To compare to a few other wards, West-Carleton-March is the quietest area, with a mere 107 noise complaints, 97 per cent less than that of Rideau-Vanier. Kanata South had 401 noise complaints and Alta Vista had 666.