Respecting Civic Engagement

Here is a scenario: a by-law, unpopular with a small group of business owners and general citizens, is brought up for review and change by city council repeatedly, even though there was a thorough community consultation less than 3 years ago.

If this was a by-law concerning zoning laws, and the business owners were developers, there would be outcry that council was ignoring the civic engagement process by re-visiting the issue again and again. In this case, however, the by-law is the noise by-law.

Strangely, the same people who spend countless hours arguing that the city has to respect the decisions and output that comes from community consultation, are hellbent to keep challenging this by-law, and by doing so, ignore the voice of their fellow citizens.

As to the 3 specific arguments that the pro-noise lobby holds to, I have a hard time accepting them. They are:

1) Later and louder concerts will increase downtown business. Here’s my problem with that: aren’t  most of the businesses that are open after 11PM bars, and wouldn’t later concerts mean less time for people to drink after the concert?

2) people who live within earshot of the concerts should expect loud noise past 11 o’clock, and they were aware of that when they moved there. If you’re talking about someone renting an apartment above a bar, then I agree with you. But when the largest and louder outdoor festival (Rock in The Park) is directly across the river from single family houses, I can’t accept your premise that those families, some with young children, knew that there would be late night rock concerts in the public park next door. The same thing goes for the Granite House Retirement Apartments a block away from Victoria Park. I’m sure “high decibel, late-nigh concerts” isn’t a selling feature for the seniors looking to live there.

3)Keeping the noise by-law as is will discourage young people from locating here. If you can show me the Western or Fanshawe exit survey where the students cited ‘outdoor concerts too quiet and end too early’ as a primary reason for leaving after graduation, I’ll concede this point to you.

You can’t pick and choose when engagement is valid. The consultation process was followed, the community spoke, and they rejected the idea of louder and later public concerts.  If you decide that the process should be different for changes you support, then you’re not a champion for civic engagement, you’re a special interest group.




Published by Chris

I'm an author, freelance writer, dad, and civic busybody living in London, Ontario

One thought on “Respecting Civic Engagement

  1. I agree, if you feel that civic engagement is an important issue, you can’t pick and choose when to use it. The public was consulted, they voiced their opinions, the decision was made . Case closed. I have read that most of the people in the gallery were of the older generation. So be it. If the younger generation wanted their opinions to be heard it was up to them to show up and voice them.

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