Now easier to get Kitchener noise bylaw exemption

Kitchener city council has approved a new policy that will allow bylaw staff to approve noise exemption requests for neighbourhood or private functions. City staff said applying for noise exemptions can be "a time consuming and daunting process that can deter people."

Applying for noise exemptions 'a time consuming and daunting process that can deter people'

Kitchener is hoping making it easier to get a noise exemption will mean neighbourhoods will have more events, like this ukulele sing-along with Grand River Horizons Ensembles, which was part of the Grand Porch Party in 2013. (Grand Porch Party)

The city of Kitchener hopes neighbourhoods will get together to celebrate after the city made it easier to get a noise exemption.

City councillors voted in favour of a new policy where neighbourhood events and small, private parties will no longer need council approval for noise exemptions.

The type of events that will be considered under the new policy are neighbourhood or family BBQs, birthday and anniversary parties and backyard weddings.

"Through the neighbourhood strategy consultations, staff was ... made aware that requiring council approval of a noise exemption can be intimidating for volunteers trying to organize small-scale events," a staff report presented at council Monday night said. "These challenges do result in some events not happening in neighbourhoods."

Application 'time consuming' and 'daunting'

Applying to council for noise exemptions can take a minimum of eight weeks, "a time consuming and daunting process that can deter people from hosting events that bring their neighbours together," a release from the city said.

As well, it takes bylaw staff at least three hours to fill out the paperwork to ask council to approve an exemption.

In the past five years, council has never turned down a request for a noise exemption for a small-scale event, a staff report said.

Allowing bylaw enforcement staff to rubber stamp noise exemption requests will "make it easier for them to do things in their neighbourhoods," the report noted.

Same rules apply

Those wanting a noise exemption will need to still provide all the same details – including the type of event, contact information, the type of noise, a diagram of the set up and what measures are taken to minimize noise – in an application.

Organizers will also be bound by the current rules that says no noise past 11 p.m. and neighbours would need to be told about the event ahead of time.

Waterloo, Mississauga and Ottawa currently allow staff to issue noise exemptions for small events.

All major events, such as music festivals or large public gatherings, would still need council approval for a noise exemption.