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Delivery noise: Should the town have a say?


Oakville’s noise bylaw regulates many sounds.

People are banned from yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, singing or the unamplified playing of musical instruments in residential areas during overnight hours.

Pets are forbidden from “persistent barking, whining or calling” at any time.

The bylaw sets out rules for tool use, construction equipment, motorized vehicles, loudspeakers and more.

And it bans the “loading, unloading, delivering, packing, unpacking, or otherwise handling any equipment, containers, products, materials, or refuse” during overnight hours, as well as on Sundays and statutory holidays.

But in 2020, the town lost its ability to regulate commercial delivery noise. Mayor Rob Burton is calling for its return.

Amid the pandemic, the provincial government approved the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 (Bill 215).

That legislation took away the right of municipalities to manage noise connected to deliveries to retail stores, hotels, restaurants or goods distribution facilities, presumably to help small businesses recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

But the province's justification for the change appears to have pivoted away from pandemic need.

“The changes help ensure consistency for suppliers and businesses and that important goods can be delivered efficiently,” said Matt Carter, a spokesperson for the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).

No ability to regulate warehouse noise

For residents living near an approved new mega warehouse complex on Winston Churchill Boulevard, the change in rules also mean they’ve lost the town’s protection from excessive noise.

During a June 27 meeting to approve the complex, the town was urged by members of the Joshua Creek Residents Association to seek returned control over noise issues.

A motion from Mayor Rob Burton, scheduled to be debated at town council’s Aug. 9 meeting, calls for exactly that.

It notes that Bill 215's purpose was to allow 24/7 delivery of goods to keep store shelves stocked during the pandemic. But with the waning of the pandemic, “there is no longer a need to prioritize the protection of supply chain efficiency over impacts to residents.”

If the motion is approved, the town will ask the province to restore its right to prohibit and regulate delivery noise.

“Residents have for generations been able to expect that municipalities may regulate within reasonable bounds such nuisances as noise,” said Burton.

“Given how much progress Ontario has made back toward normal life after the disruptions of the pandemic, I think council and the minister may agree it’s time to begin restoring to councils these powers to protect residents.”

Ward 6 councillor Tom Adams, who seconded the motion, added: “The restrictions placed on municipalities during the worst period of the significant global supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic are no longer relevant, and it is now appropriate to restore the protections that residents across Ontario previously enjoyed."

But regaining local control over noise issues could be an uphill battle.

Oakville News asked newly re-elected MPP Stephen Crawford whether he would push for a return of municipal rights to regulate noise, particularly in light of the new Winston Churchill warehouses.

While he said he is always open to hearing concerns from residents, Crawford echoed the language expressed by the MMAH spokesperson: “I want to ensure that we have consistency for both suppliers and businesses, which is important for Ontarians and the economy.”