City of Waterloo to consider nuisance bylaw for homecoming weekend
‘Students are still gathering for parties,’ Uptown Waterloo councillor Tenille Bonoguore says
Waterloo City Council will consider a request to set the nuisance noise bylaw for this year's homecoming weekend when it meets on Monday, a member of the council said.
Bylaw staff are recommending that the city put the bylaw into play between Sept. 25 and 27, even though all homecoming events have been moved online and football games are cancelled because of COVID-19.
"Students are still gathering for parties and that's why the staff are requesting that the noise bylaw be extended, just to be in place for this weekend as well," Uptown Waterloo councillor Tenille Bonoguore told CBC on News on Sunday.
"What we've noticed is it's primarily students, not from one single university."
In September 2019, council enacted an amendment to the city's public nuisance bylaw, to create a violation for nuisance noise.
All it does is gives bylaw officers an additional tool to deal with nuisance gatherings.- Councillor Tenille Bonoguore
The intent of this provision was to address noise that is generated or audible within a highway or public property.
"This nuisance bylaw was put in place primarily for St. Patrick's Day, with the provision that the council could selectively also have other times where it would apply," Bonoguore explained.
"All it does is gives bylaw officers an additional tool to deal with nuisance gatherings. So, instead of having to wait for a complaint to arise, if a gathering is generating so much noise that it can be heard in a public space, such as on the sidewalk, then bylaw has the capacity to go in and shut the party down," Bonoguore added.
A spokesperson for the City of Waterloo said the violation is another option in the city's toolkit to ensure the safety of students and city residents.
"It's only used as required," director, corporate communications Tony Iavarone wrote in an email to CBC News.
"We know from previous experience, as an example, that loud music draws people to locations, we want to deter that from happening."
Bonoguore said all this does is give the officers more capacity to actually go in without having to wait until a complaint is received.
Tighter restrictions on social gatherings
The report to the council was prepared before the province changed the rules governing private gatherings.
On Saturday Premier Doug Ford announced tighter restrictions on social gatherings for the entire province after Ontario reported 407 new cases of COVID-19.
Starting immediately, a limit of 10 people may congregate indoors, and 25 may get together outdoors for the next 28 days, Ford said Saturday.
The province noted indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together, so gatherings where 25 people are outside and 10 people are inside are not allowed.
Ford also said that those organizing parties that disregard the new limits could receive a $10,000 fine, along with $750 tickets handed out to attendees.
According to Bonoguore, back in March when the province went into lockdown, "the students in the city were fantastic."
"There were great concerns that St. Patrick's Day parties would still be held but the students were great. They did exactly what was required of everyone in the community, so, I'm interested to see what will happen with these new provincial guidelines.
"Perhaps that will also give students and anyone who was thinking of having a party … the impetus to cancel all those plans.
"If they still go ahead, staff are requesting that they are able to go in and shut it down before it becomes too big a problem," Bonoguore added.
A total of 21 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in in Waterloo region on Sunday.
The region says there are 112 active cases of the virus. No one is listed as being in hospital.
It brings the total number of cases since the pandemic hit the region in March to 1,592. Of those, 1,360 have been marked as resolved and 120 people have died.