Who's patrolling Hamilton's late-night parties?
"If you have a party after one o'clock, don't worry about noise complaints because no one's coming,” Coun. Clark says
If you have a late-night party in Hamilton, you're not supposed to be noisy. But right now, the city's not sure exactly who will stop you.
Noise complaints and other bylaw infractions are low priority for the police. The city has investigated establishing a late-night bylaw enforcement unit, but it's not a good idea, staff told councillors at a planning committee meeting Tuesday.
That leaves the city without a solution, which isn't good enough, said Coun. Brad Clark of Ward 9 in Stoney Creek. He, along with other councillors, directed staff to discuss it with police again.
As it stands, he said, late-night partiers know they can be noisy and there's no one around to stop them.
"The police are telling us they're not going to do it. We're not going to do it," Clark said. "It's a neon sign that if you have a party after one o'clock, don't worry about noise complaints because no one's coming."
The issue began in 2008, when a consultant report recommended that municipal law enforcement officers only work until 1 a.m., at which time police should take over noise complaint calls.
But police have other priorities and aren't always able to immediately respond to calls. In November, council voted that the city investigate establishing its own late-night bylaw enforcement unit.
However, that same 2008 consultant report shows that most calls after 1 a.m. require police accompaniment anyway, said Marty Hazell, director of parking and bylaw services.
When staff met with Hamilton Police Service, the police supported the status quo and would not provide specialized training or special status to a city enforcement team, Hazell said in a report.
Unless police provide training, it's too risky to send bylaw enforcement officers out to late-night calls, Hazell said. And if the officers feel unsafe, they can refuse the work anyway.
The issue needs a solution, Clark said.
"I'm not comfortable yet with us just walking away from this," he said.
"We're really just saying to the world, 'Have your parties. No one's showing up. The cops won't come and neither will municipal law enforcement.' That's not good public policy."