Lansdowne neighbours struggle with late-night noise, city's inaction

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

People who live near Lansdowne Park want the city to do a better job enforcing its own noise bylaw because loud music is keeping them up at night.

No one is supposed to operate amplifiers and speakers between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. if it disturbs the peace and comfort of people in their homes or businesses, according to Ottawa bylaw 2004-253.

But events at Lansdowne Park — particularly dance parties and wedding receptions in the Aberdeen Pavilion and Horticulture building — appear to be doing just that. And some residents say they’re fed up.

On Wednesday night, Michael Vickers says he could hear loud noise coming from an event inside the Aberdeen Pavilion after 11 p.m.

Although he has registered complaints on at least 10 previous occasions, he didn’t call bylaw this time because the response, he says, often seems skeptical.

“Nobody cares about the disruption that that’s causing,” said Vickers, who lives a few hundred metres north of Lansdowne’s Holmwood Street entrance. “The response we’ve had from bylaw officers and other people is, ‘You’re just these anti-Lansdowne people and you’re whining again.'”

Noise disruptions are a common — and at times complex — irritant for some city dwellers and, in this case, the problem appears to be worst for those who live in a small cluster of homes near Lansdowne’s northern edge.

It’s also tricky for the city, which must strike a balance between being a good neighbour and cashing in on the revenue-earning potential of its facilities.

Vickers, who lives with his wife and two school-age sons, admits he has no great love for the redevelopment. But it’s there and he knows he has to live with it. “I can’t undo it, but I expect the city to operate it in a civilized manner in relation to the residents nearby, many of whom raised just these kinds of concerns and objections during the process,” he said.

Many of the events being booked are incompatible with a nearby residential neighbourhood — especially on weeknights, he said, adding it’s unfair for the city to rent space for events knowing full-well a noise complaint could be filed if the party doesn’t quiet down at 11 p.m.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko acknowledges the city has revenue targets to meet for renting the spaces, but said he’s been pushing staff to find other ways besides parties and wedding receptions. “A lot of events have found these to be attractive venues, but they don’t work cheek-by-jowl with a residential community,” he said.

The bylaw department dealt with close to 70 noise complaints at Lansdowne Park last year, a dozen of which were related to nine events held in either the Aberdeen or Horticulture buildings after 11 p.m.

Both are heritage buildings without insulation and need to be further adapted for the current use, said Dan Chenier, the city manager responsible for Lansdowne Park’s public features.

All new inquiries for events that would stretch beyond 11 p.m. are being made aware of the noise bylaw and staff are discouraging the use of deep bass, he said. Staff are also being more picky about which events they book for Lansdowne and consider the installation of sound absorption material and a permanent sound system inside the Horticulture building to optimize sound inside and minimize spillage outside.

“We need to find a balance without turning off the lights, turning off the music and not using the building,” Chenier said. “The commitment is to do better, to find some solutions that are going to help bring down the sound on the adjoining properties but still go ahead and make it a lively, animated place that it’s intended to be.”

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If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit ottawa.ca/newlansdowne, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.