Seeking legal advice on nuisance noise bylaw

Bashaw, Alberta
Written by Stu Salkeld

Bashaw town council decided it will seek some legal advice before approving a stricter nuisance noise bylaw. The decision was made at the Oct. 24 regular meeting of council.

The proposed public disturbance bylaw was presented to councillors by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller and was brought back in response to a number of public complaints the municipality received about an industrial business that was apparently cleaning train cars.

Last summer a number of residents contacted the town office to complain about an industrial business that was working with rail cars and generating noise.

At a previous council meeting, councillors examined their public disturbance bylaw and felt it may not have the teeth to deal with complaints such as those received last summer.

When presenting the bylaw Fuller noted it was a new bylaw and would require councillors to rescind the previous one if this one is approved.

She noted there were two primary changes, the first being a specific statement that a sound may be judged a nuisance in regard to its compliance with provincial occupational health and safety legislation.

The other change was listed under the industrial section of the bylaw. “Industrial operations are subject to additional review if activities negatively impact residents and present objectionable or noxious conditions,” stated the draft bylaw. “The Town of Bashaw may consider the presentation of the conditions as a change in use, requiring a development application to evaluate changes in operations.

“As per the Town of Bashaw Land Use Bylaw, the industrial designation is intended to accommodate the development of a wide array of industrial uses but which will not cause any objectionable or noxious conditions, be it noise, odour, dust, vibration or any other similar sensation, beyond the lot on which they are located.”

The CAO noted that initial development permits do contain a lot of useful information but one never really knows exactly how an operation will proceed until its underway.

However, Fuller suggested the proposed bylaw be vetted by a legal expert to ensure the restrictions are not too rigid.
“I think it would be wise of us to have a firm review it,” said Fuller.

She also noted that the town could simply rely completely on the OHS legislation and if there is a nuisance complaint the town would let that provincial department handle all of it.

During discussion Coun. Jackie Northey asked if the Town of Bashaw had been in contact with the company that was the subject of all last summer’s complaints. Fuller responded no she hadn’t.

Northey stated she had spoken to someone at the business and it was her understanding the company knows about the noise issues and the company is not planning to “…take that product again,” so the specific noise issue so many people were angry about shouldn’t be a problem again.

During discussion councillors also mentioned the community at large didn’t know much about when the noise in question was supposed to come to an end.

Northey also added she liked the part about OHS legislation. and wasn’t sure the other new parts were needed in the bylaw.

Councillors unanimously passed a resolution that the proposed nuisance bylaw be sent to a firm for legal advice.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.