Waterloo city council approves noise bylaw for Homecoming weekend

Football may be cancelled this year, but a nuisance noise bylaw will once again take effect in the City of Waterloo over Homecoming weekend.

Bylaw is another tool the city hopes to use to discourage large parties

The Guelph Police Service released this image from a homecoming party that took place in 2019. Waterloo city council approved a nuisance noise bylaw Monday afternoon that's intended to discourage homecoming parties. (Guelph Police Service)

The big football game may be cancelled this year, but a nuisance noise bylaw will still be in place in the City of Waterloo for Homecoming weekend.

That means anyone caught making loud noises in a public right-of-way this weekend could risk a court summons and a fine of up to $5,000.

"We find sometimes that noise and music out on the streets can cause people to congregate, and so this is just one of the tools that we're trying to use to discourage large gatherings," said Shayne Turner, the City of Waterloo's director of municipal enforcement.

Last year, bylaw officers handed out about a dozen summonses for violating the noise bylaw. Most fines ended up being around $300, Turner said.

There is no particular decibel level associated with the bylaw and instead, Turner said, officers will be trusted to use their judgment. Loud music that can be heard from across the street is one example of a noise that would violate the bylaw, he said.  

Waterloo city council voted Monday that the bylaw will be in effect Sept. 25, 26 and 27. 

Party limits

The decision comes just days after the province announced new limits on how many people can attend social gatherings, as the number of COVID-19 cases has steadily increased since the end of August. 

"We can't have these wild parties right now. It's just way, way too risky," Premier Doug Ford said in a weekend news conference.

Anyone who organizes a private, unmonitored gathering of more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors risks a fine of $10,000. Anyone who attends one of those gatherings could be on the hook for $750.

The provincial limits apply across Ontario, including Waterloo region, and are in effect for a 28-day period that began Sept. 19.   

Earlier this month, a party of more than 100 students in Waterloo had to be broken up by police and bylaw officers.

Still, Turner said he's optimistic that people will follow the rules this coming weekend. He noted that students stayed home on St. Patrick's Day in March, and the massive Ezra Street party that many people feared never took place.

"I'm confident that people will understand the public health risks associated with COVID-19 and limit themselves to gatherings that are under the provincial limits," said Turner. "And keep the noise down."


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