Radium resident requests noise bylaw change

A Radium resident requested a noise bylaw change at the most recent town council meeting after several cases she says cost her business.

It’s a problem nearly everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. It’s early morning, you’re trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep when the sound of machinery outside awakes you, cutting off any chance you have at achieving those last few peaceful moments.

This was precisely the complaint that the Village of Radium Hot Springs heard at its council meeting last week. Deb James, owner of the Village Country Inn and the Crystal Springs Motel in Radium, had sent council a letter prior to her appearance before council on September 14th to talk about the Village’s noise bylaw with the possibility of amending it to a more suitable hour.

Jones said the complaint stems from several incidents this summer that she claims have disrupted her business. In June, a grass-cutting contractor for the village cut the grass at 7 a.m. with his riding lawn mower. Another incident in July involved a wood chipper running loudly and continuously from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. right across from the Crystal Springs Motel. Jones said these noise disruptions ruin the peace and quiet for her guests who come to Radium on their holidays to relax.

“I think it is time to take in consideration that we need to present the best first impression to our many visitors to Radium and getting rudely awakened before 8 a.m. is unacceptable,” she wrote in her email to council. “I know some people just shrug and say that’s how it is, but I believe there is something we can and should do about it as a community. Today it is my problem, tomorrow it could be any and all residents experiencing a similar noise pollution.”

She said at council that she understands it is too late for her summer to be improved with a change to the bylaw, but is looking into the future and advocating for other businesses that will be impacted through future construction, like the new community hall that is set to break ground in the spring of 2017.

Currently, the noise bylaw for Radium Hot Springs (Bylaw No. 353) mandates that no person in the Village shall on any day start construction before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. regardless of the day of the week. Jones said during council that she didn’t need a significant extension of the time for construction hours, but wanted to be open to the possibility of moving the limit to 8 a.m.

“I’m not asking for 10 a.m., or noon or something, but how many of us, when you’re on holidays, want to get woken up at 7 o’clock?” she said. “We’re a satellite community, we’re big on tourism, we’re about sleep.”

One of the questions Council had on this issue is where similar resort communities stood on the issue and if they have faced similar noise complains in the past. Councillor Ron Verboom said he investigated this question in communities such as Invermere, Golden and Canmore prior to the council meeting and found that all used the same bylaw as Radium’s starting time.

Verboom said he understood the problem that the extra noise can create for visitors in the valley, but motioned to look at the issue as that of short-term pain for long-term gain.

“It’s unfortunate that the noise is there temporarily but I think it’s wonderful that we have new buildings being started here in town and we haven’t had that for quite a while,” he said. “I think the residents are compliant with that because they realize it’s for the benefit and the good of the town to see that construction growth and bringing in the extra revenue on a long-term basis rather than just seeing that short-term noise factor.”

Council discussed the idea of adding an informational request to the building permits asking contractors to hold off starting until 8 a.m. while being mindful of the potential tourists in the area. This extra piece of information will not be binding but could serve as a way to help mitigate the issue, said mayor Clara Reinhardt.

“Even when you have a bylaw, it doesn’t guarantee it,” she said. “We all have noise at 12 or 1 in the morning. If we make them aware, what if a third of them get it? We’re ahead of the game.”

At this point, Council elected to hold off on making any changes to the existing bylaw and will consult with the contracting community to determine a best avenue in the future to help mitigate the issue.