Noise and Nuisances

Housing Salubriousness – Mold – Inspections and Interventions (2017)

Charter File

Properly managing insalubriousness remains a constant concern for our office. Year after year, we intervene to improve the quality of the City’s interventions in these types of cases.

In 2017, three files are highlighted because they all yielded the same positive results.

Arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal

Tenants struggling with water infiltration and mold issues are not pleased with the Borough’s interventions. When we intervene, the file had been taken over by the Direction de l’habitation (Central Department) who has a team of experts in the management of housing insalubriousness. Our enquiry focuses exclusively on the Borough’s interventions before the file was transferred.

Arrondissement de Verdun

The OdM launches an own motion enquiry in order to understand the management of mold-related complaints by the Borough. A previous file had raised doubts over the control checks to ensure that work performed by a landlord to eradicate mold is not simply cosmetic in nature.

Arrondissement de Lachine

A couple with three children is dealing with a significant mold issue in their dwelling. They complain that the Borough was late in declaring the dwelling unfit for habitation and issuing them a Notice of Evacuation.

Results

The three files shed light on the gaps in mold management cases. The Boroughs are open to improving their procedures.

The three Boroughs agree to provide their inspectors with specific training on appropriate management of insalubriousness and mold issues. This training is provided by an expert from the Direction de l’habitation. The training sessions explain how to properly monitor mold-related files: they also ensure that the City interventions are standardized and adequate.

Two of the inspection teams have been trained in 2017; the third team will be trained in 2018.

Film Shoots – Impact on the Neighbourhood (2017)

Charter File

Service de la culture Direction Cinéma, Festivals et Événements Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision de Montréal

A citizen complains over nuisances generated by frequent film shooting occurring in the building adjacent to hers.

  • Shouts, loudspeakers, loud conversations, door banging, laughter, cell phones, etc.
  • Cigarette smoke and accumulation of cigarette butts
  • Constant back-and-forth and impression of being in the middle of a perpetual move
  • All street parking is clogged
  • Presence of heavy trucks in front of her residence
  • Traffic congestion form morning to night
  • Odours from paints
  • Glaring spotlights aimed at her living-room and bedroom windows

 

The citizen requests a 2017 moratorium on film shooting in her neighbour’s residence and asks that the City manage this type of operation more efficiently going forward.

The Bureau du cinéma cannot prevent a person from allowing film shooting in his dwelling. However, it can intervene on the issuance of the Permits required for the occupation of public land, the parking of production vehicles and film shooting on the street. Furthermore, residential zoning must be complied with: private residences cannot become commercial studios.

Before resorting to extreme measures, the Bureau du cinéma looks into potential easing solutions, seeking a fair balance between the citizens’ right to privacy and the importance of creative endeavours.

In this case and following discussions with our office, the Bureau du cinéma decides on the following:

  • Limiting the number of film shoots at the neighbour’s residence to two per year, and
  • Reminding the latter of his obligations to the neighbourhood at the time of shootings.

 

The citizen welcomed these results.

Nuisances – Deliveries and Garbage Collection Operations (2017)

Charter File

Arrondissement de LaSalle

Citizens are complaining about nuisances generated by a seniors’ residence located in front of their houses, mainly due to garbage collection and recycling operations and truck deliveries.

The Borough had previously intervened in this case: inspections, reminders of the schedule to take out the bins for garbage collection (not before 7 a.m.) and their location. Notices of Violation (Avis d’infraction) were also issued.

In the course of the enquiry, the Borough proposes to ban parking in front of the location where the bins and containers should be deposited: their handling by the janitor will thus be easier and the trucks will access the garage door more easily. The parking ban is approved by the Borough Council in February 2017: signs are installed shortly thereafter.

The complainants also hoped that the Borough would require the installation of an alley for waste collection and deliveries purposes, on the lot of this residence. This is not feasible. At the time it was built, this building was compliant with the regulation: today, the Borough cannot require that an alley be implemented.

As for the other alleged nuisances (mower noise, annual carpet cleaning noise, truck deliveries, etc.), they result from normal operations and are not excessive. It is not necessary to intervene regarding these aspects.

Nuisances Generated by a Tree Nursery and Gardening Centre – Operational Improvements (2017)

Charter File

Arrondissement de Saint-Laurent

Citizens are complaining about the operations of a nearby gardening center.

• Excessive noise due to heavy machinery and fork lift operation.

• Dust mainly emanating from soil heaps and other products sold in bulk.

• Noise, vibration and dust when large garden stones are loaded and during sifting operations.

• Activities outside of normal business hours.

Our enquiry confirms several issues. In our view, mitigating measures could be implemented in order to reduce nuisances for the nearby residents. We discuss with the Borough who confirms its willingness to intervene with the business, in accordance with the regulation that provides for nuisance, cleanliness, storage and standard business hours of operation.

There follows numerous exchanges and meetings between the Borough and the business owners with a view to adopt an action plan. The OdM closely monitors the status of the case and keeps communications open between the citizens and the Borough. The business agrees to bring changes to its operations. Among the numerous measures taken, we cite the following:

• Establishing a boundary around a sensitive zone near the neighbouring dwellings: operations and traffic therein are reduced to a minimum.

• Adopting a plan to ward off traffic from the neighbouring dwellings.

• Relocating the heaps of large garden stones away from the dwellings and ceasing this type of operation once all the stones are sold.

• Covering the heaps of soil and other products sold in bulk in order to reduce the dust.

• Ceasing the sifting operation when all products on site are sifted.

• Replacing some of the noisy equipment.

• Providing guidelines to suppliers ensuring that business hours are complied with and that noise is reduced during unloading operations.

• Providing guidelines to employees to enforce the action plan.

The Borough keeps a very close eye on the implementation in the action plan and notifies us of its progress. It also meets with the impacted citizens. During this meeting to which our office is invited, the citizens submit their observations, comments and suggestions.

Follow-ups and visits take place in 2015 and 2016: in light of the citizens’ comments regarding the noted improvements and the issues that are still at stake, the action plan is adjusted.

The citizens confirm significant improvements during the summer of 2016: some issues were fully resolved, others were greatly mitigated. Compliance with the action plan is not always perfect but the situation has significantly improved. In this context, the Borough deems that a strict follow-up is no longer required and that starting in 2017, it will only intervene on an ad-hoc basis, as required.

In light of the citizens’ comments and subsequent information, we therefore close this file.

We wish to point out the constructive cooperation from both the Borough and the targeted business: the sound interventions of the former and the openness of the latter to change its operations have helped improve the quality of life of the area’s citizens, which we hope will be in a sustainable way.

Implementation of a dog run facility – Small park – Residential proximity – Project withdrawn (2016)

Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles

Charter file

Several citizens dispute the Borough’s project to implement a dog run facility (Aire d’exercice canin – AEC) in a park located in front of their residence. They fear the resulting nuisances for the residents living around this park. The Borough maintains its position. The citizens turn to the Ombudsman.

The Borough had initiated this project in good faith, with a view to respond to requests from several dog owners. It claims that residents had been consulted and that the majority had at that time agreed to the dog run project.

Following our on-site visit, our office deems that the nuisance risks are high: the park is small, the residences are in close proximity and there is little space to develop a dog run (AEC). What’s more, surveys conducted by the plaintiffs contradict the Borough’s information as to the project’s acceptability by the nearby residents. We further note that the file’s parameters do not meet reference standards that are usually considered by the City in developing a dog run (AEC).

Our comments are welcomed. The Borough withdraws the project.

Poor road conditions – Section of Rachel Street – Repaired (2016)

Arrondissement du Plateau Mont-Royal and Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports

Charter file

A citizen has been complaining in vain for several years of road conditions on Rachel street: numerous potholes and cracks are causing strong vibrations in his residence when vehicles go by.

Our visit on site, in 2015, confirms the desolate state of the road. The Borough and Central Department agree.

Rachel street is added to the list of roads included in the Planification des travaux de re-surfaçage (re-surfacing planning) for 2016.

In the meantime, the Borough intensifies its repair work to fix numerous potholes and cracks.

The file is closed only once the repair (re-surfacing) of Rachel street is fully completed.

Restaurant with a terrace – Nuisances – Improvement of waste management (2016)

Arrondissement de Lachine

Charter file

A citizen complains over nuisances generated by a restaurant that is struggling with waste and recyclable material management issues. She adds that the outdoor terrace installed at the side of the building would not be compliant. We engage the Borough.

The latter arranges for the owner to fence off the area where his waste disposal container is located, in his backyard. This enclosure is constructed in the summer of 2016: all waste from the restaurant, including recyclables, must be stored there at all times, except on collection days or the day before.

As for the terrace, it turns out that it is compliant. To operate it, the owner must however obtain yearly a Permis d’occupation du domaine public (public domain occupancy permit) and cover the related fees. The owner was initially issued such a permit, but had not renewed it afterwards. The situation was remedied.

Poor road conditions – Section of chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine – Repaired (2016)

Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports

Charter file

Citizens are complaining over deplorable road conditions on chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine. This road is badly damaged: citizens are impacted by the vibrations and noise caused by traffic. Having failed to obtain satisfaction, they request that we intervene.

Our visit confirms the presence of numerous road imperfections, including several very deep potholes. The Borough and Central Department confirm that the issue is problematic and commit to remedy the matter.

The chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine is added to the list of roads included in the Planification des travaux de re- surfaçage (re-surfacing planning) for 2016.

While waiting for these major repairs, the Borough takes measures, at the onset of the spring season, to fill the potholes.

Repairs to the road and sidewalk are completed in the summer of 2016. We then close the file.

Arrondissement de Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie – Nuisances – Heavy truck traffic – Bourbonnière Avenue – Charter file (2015)

In 2013, nearly 25 citizens residing on Bourbonnière Avenue, between Sherbrooke Street and Mont-Royal Avenue, complain of excessive noise and vibrations in their homes which they attribute to different causes:

 

  • Abundance of trucks on this artery although, in principle, only local traffic is allowed;

 

  • Bad road conditions;

 

  • Frequent bus transit; and

 

  • Excessive speed of the general traffic, on their street.

These residents are also dissatisfied with the recent reorganization of parking spaces, which they find dangerous for drivers accessing their vehicles.

Our investigation confirms all of these problems.

With the combined effort of the Borough and the local Police Station (PDQ), many problems are quickly resolved or attenuated:

  • The parking spaces are put back to their original locations, resolving the safety issue.

 

  • Relatively fast, the Borough resurfaces the street, fills the holes and corrects the unevenness problems.

 

  • As for speed and frequent passing of unauthorized trucks (i.e. not making deliveries in the area), the PDQ intensified its surveillance: the area is put under “special attention” for many months.

 

  • The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) also collaborates to limit the bus transit traffic on this street: the STM signs are modified to limit the speed of buses to 30 km / h (whereas it is 40 km / h for all other vehicles).

The residents of the area confirm there is a real improvement in their quality of life:  noise reduction, density and speed of traffic reduced, less vibrations in their houses.

Arrondissement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro – Nuisance caused by a business – Seven years of follow-ups – Final results – Charter file (2015)

Since 2009, we intervened many times to try and settle different nuisance problems resulting from non-compliant activities of a business located near residences.

Though it was not permitted, this business was storing a significant amount of merchandise outdoor, on its land.  The storage related operations (delivery, handling, sale, etc.) were generating noise nuisances (often early in the morning), dust, traffic, parking problems, etc.  There was also a safety issue, due to the increased traffic and the unloading of delivery trucks taking place in the street.

After investigation, we had issued a Recommendation asking the Borough to follow this file more closely and take appropriate measures to make these non-compliant activities stop.

The Borough had accepted our recommendation and followed up.  Inspections were steadily carried out.  Notices and Statements of offence were issued to the business owner, namely for his non-compliant outdoor storage.  But the owner contested these fines.

We followed up on the situation, annually.  In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Borough pursued its actions.  Many non-compliances were corrected, but the outdoor storage problem remained.  Other Statements of offence were, therefore, issued.

In December 2012, the Municipal Court confirmed that 12 Statements of offence regarding the non-compliant outdoor storage were well-founded.  The business owner was fined.

The situation has since improved, gradually.  The nuisances caused by the outdoor storage were globally resolved.

The outcome is positive for the residents of the area.  In light of the above, our office does not plan further follow-ups.

Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville – Disturbing noise – Activities in a Community Center – Charter file (2015)

A citizen was complaining of excessive noise, during weekends and often late at night, when events were being held in a Community Center located near his residence.  His numerous dealings with the Borough had not settled anything.

Our investigation revealed that the Occupancy Certificate held by this Center was for a Place of worship.  Such a certificate only allows community and sociocultural activities.  Some activities taking place on these premises were, therefore, not permitted; among others, there were regular fee-based dancing events open to the public.

We discussed the situation with the Borough. The latter reminded the managers of the Center of the uses permitted and not permitted, in their premises.  The Center complied with the Borough’s requests.  The situation has improved.

School yard adjacent to private yards – Non-supervised activities – Noisy and smelly garbage containers (2014)

Residents of Arrondissement de Verdun whose backyards border a school yard are complaining of the excessive noise emanating from the latter, evenings and week-ends, during spontaneous, non-supervised activities, as well as of foul odours caused by the presence of garbage containers nearby.  The Borough refuses to intervene and tells the citizens to contact the SPVM when there is noise.  The OdM makes contact with the school’s management and the school board and obtains their collaboration.  Henceforth, the yard is locked whenever the school staff leaves.  It is, therefore, no longer accessible to the public, during nights and week-ends.  As for the garbage containers that were close to the residences, they were moved further away which resolved the noise and foul odour problems.  We will follow up in 2015.

Commercial activities causing a nuisance and encroaching on a school ground (2014)

Residents of Arrondissement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro were complaining of nuisances caused by a tool rental business located nearby, and next door to a school.  They were mainly complaining about the noise generated by the loading of large equipment, often very early in the morning.  They also mentioned that the business and its clients would use the school’s property to load and unload tool vehicles.  Out of concern for the safety of students, our office contacted the business owner and the school management.  With their collaboration, measures were put in place to reduce nuisances and stop the business and its clients from using the school grounds.  The Borough undertook to make the required follow-ups to ensure the respect of these measures and of the applicable regulation.  If needed, our office will follow up again, in 2015.

Restaurant food waste and garbage (2014)

In 2011, an OdM investigation in Arrondissement d’Outremont had brought to light problems regarding the application of the regulation governing the handling of restaurant food waste, between garbage collections.  We had indeed noticed that, despite the regulation, some establishments had no cold storage place to keep their food waste.  They were, therefore, placing them in outside bins, near homes. The owners and tenants of these homes were complaining of a multitude of nuisances (odours, uncleanliness, vermin and noise).  Our intervention had allowed to attenuate many of these nuisances, but not entirely.  The Borough had then undertaken to review its regulation.  In 2014, the OdM submitted comments on the draft new regulation.  This regulation was adopted in December 2014.  Our office will follow up in 2015 regarding the application of the new rules and their efficiency.

Noise nuisance – The imminence of a formal inspection prompts a neighbour to intervene (2014)

Despite the Borough’s interventions, a citizen of Arrondissement d’Anjou continues to complain that the level of noise made by his neighbour’s pool filter is too high.  Following our intervention, the Borough schedules a noise level test to be conducted by a City technician.  Informed of this procedure, the neighbour sent his filter for repairs before the test.  The problem was therefore resolved.  The plaintiff confirms that the noise levels are now acceptable.

Illegal dumping of garbage – The Borough finally intervenes – Problem resolved (2014)

Citizens of Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville are complaining about the fact that the garbage of a neighbouring apartment building is regularly deposited near the street, outside of the permitted days and times.  The big bins used for this purpose do not have a cover, are often overflowing and emit foul odours that spread to the plaintiffs’ property.  The plaintiffs’ dealings with the Borough were not successful.  Our investigation confirms lapses in the interventions and follow-ups. The Borough accepts to go on location and recognizes the seriousness of the problem.  It intervenes more firmly with the owner of the building who agrees to collaborate.  The latter buys new bins with lids.  Between garbage collections, these bins are henceforth kept on the building’s property, in a discrete area.  The plaintiffs confirm that there is a major and sustained improvement.

Garbage not collected (2012)

A citizen was complaining about the fact that, despite many calls to Réseau Accès Montréal, a pile of garbage was still present in front of his residence. Following our repeated interventions, these items were finally collected by Arrondissement de Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, many days later.

Street maintenance and damaged building (2012)

A citizen was complaining about the poor maintenance of his street and sidewalks as well as of the presence of a vacant damaged building. Arrondissement de Ville-Marie confirmed that there had been problems with the schedule of the street sweepers, in this area, due to recent change in their routes. This situation had been corrected following the citizen’s complaint. The borough also proceeded to a special cleaning operation of the nearby sidewalks and alley. As for the damaged building, the borough was regularly inspecting it to ensure the safety of the public. Owners had submitted draft projects to rebuild it but none satisfied the borough’s regulation requirements. Finally, after a more recent assessment of the building, the borough issued a Demolition Order to the owners: the building was demolished soon after.

Measures to reduce noise nuisances – Private College (2012)

We obtained, with the collaboration of Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce that a private college improves its measures to reduce nuisances resulting from the operation of its arena, close to residences, at night and on weekends. The college adopted different new measures including the extension of the closing times of the arena’s parking lot.

Nuisances – Construction site (2012)

We obtained that Arrondissement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro intervenes more actively with the promoter of a construction site so that his and his subcontractors’ employees comply with the prescribed hours for site operation and stop making noise outside of these hours more specifically, early in the morning.

Excessive noise generated by a factory (2011)

In November 2011, we investigated a complaint of excessive noise generated by a factory which makes metallic products and tubes. Since our intervention, Arrondissement Le Sud-Ouest has made vigorous follow-ups and the company collaborates well. The challenge is significant, however, in finding an efficient solution to reduce the noise levels while respecting the right of this business to carry on its activities. This file is still active.

Sanitation and noise problems in a courtyard – Mediation and Undertakings that pay off (2011)

A citizen is complaining of uncleanliness and foul smells in a courtyard, adjacent to an alley bordering his residence, in Arrondissement d’Outremont. This courtyard is located behind three restaurants which deposit their waste in containers, as well as recyclables, in wheeled bins.

The citizen is also complaining about the noise resulting from bottles being thrown in the recycling bins.

The problem is more acute during the Summer, due to the hot weather and the increased number of customers.

Following our mediation with the citizen, the borough and the restaurant owners, mitigation measures are strengthened and new measures are implemented for the Summer of 2011. The borough undertakes to increase its supervision and the inspection team will make almost daily visits.

In the Fall of 2011, the citizen confirms that the general uncleanliness problem is almost completely resolved and that, despite some oversights, there was a good improvement in the noise problem, during the deposit of bottles. The borough also confirms that the situation has improved.

However, a question still remains.

Indeed, the borough had authorized one of the restaurant owners to acquire a freezer to store its waste, while the By-law on waste collection and collection of recyclable and re-usable materials requires the presence of a cold room.

This interpretation appears questionable and unlikely to achieve the purposes intended by this requirement.

Questioned on this issue, the borough explained that the obligation to have a cold room would pose a problem, when the business’ surface is insufficient. The borough also informs us of its intention to review the concerned By-law.

We are continuing our follow-ups in this file, namely to ensure that the chosen position respects the City’s obligations, including its clear undertaking from the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, to:

“(…) taking measures (…) to control (abusive irritants) stemming from dumping garbage (…)”

Illegal dumping of garbage – The borough intervenes – Great improvement (2011)

A citizen complained about a recurring problem of illegal dumping of garbage by neighbouring residents, in front of her Bed and Breakfast. This problem was continuing despite her many complaints to Arrondissement de Ville-Marie.

Following our intervention, the borough took many steps toward finding a solution. It increased its surveillance of the area and its inspectors searched garbage bags in order to identify offenders. A citizen was personally challenged.

In parallel with this increased surveillance, the borough distributed a letter explaining the objective and requirements of the By-law concerning good citizenship, respect and cleanliness to the residents of this area.

All these actions paid off and the plaintiff noted a major improvement. The borough will maintain an assiduous surveillance of the area, for some time, and thereafter, on an as needed basis.

Noise nuisance – Transfer of file: no follow-up (2011)

In section 24 g) of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, Ville de Montréal undertakes to:

“taking measures to reduce abusive irritants resulting from noise…”.

A citizen is complaining about excessive noise coming from a heat pump running all year round.

His complaint was initially handled by Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal whose noise control team used to handle noise complaints for many of Montréal’s boroughs. This investigation confirms that the maximum noise levels are exceeded: a Notice is, therefore, issued to the business owning the heat pump, requesting that its remedies the situation.

In 2011, following administrative changes, Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal no longer serves the other boroughs for noise complaint management. The citizen’s file is, therefore, transferred to his borough, Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, which does not follow up.

The citizen addresses his complaint to the Ombudsman.

Following our intervention, the file is reopened. The neighbouring business is collaborating and work is done. The citizen confirms that the excessive noise problem is resolved.

Excessive noise – Garbage collection at night (2010)

In 2009, a citizen had complained of the excessive noise resulting from garbage collection activities occurring at night, near his residence, in Arrondissement de Ville-Marie.

The nightly collection of garbage was not specifically prohibited by the By-Laws in effect in that borough which, therefore, could only manage this complaint under its Règlement sur le bruit, which prohibits noise exceeding 50 decibels at night.

Such an approach was difficult and costly to manage, however, since it required the presence of a noise technician / inspector on location, at the time of infractions. The borough decided, therefore, to opt for another avenue, that is: to modify its Règlement sur le civisme, le respect et la propreté.

A recent follow-up with Arrondissement de Ville-Marie confirmed that they fulfilled their commitment. The Règlement sur le civisme, le respect et la propreté was modified so as to prohibit specifically garbage collection between 11pm and 7am, on all of the borough territory. Businesses affected by this modification were informed in writing of this new provision and the borough asked them to modify their collection schedules accordingly.

The borough committed to conduct nightly surveillance in problematic areas and, if need be, to issue Statements of offence to companies who would continue to collect garbage at night.

Dog area – Liébert Park (2009)

In 2009, residents complained about nuisances resulting from the presence of a dog area, in the Liébert Park, in front of their residence. This park is located in Arrondissement de Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. This dog area did not meet the usual standards for the implementation of a dog area in this borough. After a long investigation, our office issued a Recommendation to close or relocate it.

Our Recommendation had been denied by the Borough which, however, adopted new operation regulations for dog parks, in 2012.

We asked the Borough to confirm which measures were implemented to ensure the respect of these new rules in this specific dog park, more particularly after the normal working hours of municipal inspectors.

The Borough confirmed that the dog owners association of this dog park refuses to take on any responsibility whatsoever to ensure compliance to these rules by users. Yet, according to the Borough’s requirements, the dog owners association must “accept to act as a partner with the Borough to ensure the calmness as well as the respect of the environment and of the regulations applicable to the park and the dog park.” (our translation)

At the end of 2013, the Borough installed a new sign, at the dog park entrance, mentioning the new regulation adopted in the spring of 2012 including the fact the dog park was now closing at 10pm rather than 11pm, as before. As we wrote our 2013 Annual report, the information availbale on the City’s website was still not modified, accordingly. The modifications were made soon after the release of our Report, in May 2014.

The Borough also installed a new automatic lock system on the dog park’s door, in order to prevent access outside opening hours. However, this system did not seem to be functioning as of December 31, 2013.

Our office continues to follow up with the Borough.

Management of noise complaints

In 2006, the Ombudsman de Montréal mentioned improvements in the following up and handling of excessive noise complaints. Indeed, different measures had been implemented in the boroughs most affected by this type of complaints, and we had noticed the positive impact of these measures which lowered the number of requests submitted to our office, on such matter. In 2008, we handled 54 requests in regards to excessive noise which led to only 17 thorough investigations. In 2009, we handled 36 requests regarding excessive noise only 16 of which required a more thorough investigation.

Since our muscled interventions of the past few years, we have noticed that many boroughs show more diligence in the handling of noise complaints: noise measurements are generally taken within shorter delays and solutions are identified more rapidly.

Noise problems are more frequent in boroughs where the population density is greater and where residential, commercial and industrial buildings are in proximity of each other. Concious this reality affects them more specifically, the representatives and elected officials of Arrondissement de Ville-Marie decided to act, in 2008, to try to improve things.

A new technician was hired to deal specifically with the borough’s noise problems. On top of measuring the intensity of noises in contentious cases, this technician also meets with merchants and residents to share information, explain the relevant by-laws and encourage people to act in a preventive manner, so as to avoid litigation and the risk of a fine. If the need arises, he can also give them advice in this regard.

Arrondissement de Ville-Marie also increased significantly the amount of the fines that can be imposed to businesses, when their activities exceed the maximum permitted noise levels. These fines are now as follows:

  • (i) From $1,500 to $3,000 for a first offence;
  • (ii) From $3,000 to $6,000 for the first repeated offence; and
  • (iii) From $6,000 to $12,000 for any additional repeated offence.

According to the information we obtained, it would appear that, since this new approach was implemented, the number of noise complaints the borough received has greatly decreased and moreover, a more harmonious cohabitation is underway, between citizens and merchants. Arrondissement de Ville-Marie may, therefore, become a model to be followed, in terms of noise management.

Mobile Home Park – Non-compliances (2017)

Arrondissement de L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève

A citizen complains over several problematic issues in a mobile home park.

Some aspects of the complaint are not municipal issues and fall outside our jurisdiction. Allegations of poor maintenance, inadequate snow removal, inadequate street/parking signage and insufficient lighting on a private property are private disputes between the tenants and their landlord: our office can therefore not examine them. The same applies regarding the compliance or not of the electrical network: complaints relating thereto must be managed by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.

Our enquiry nevertheless confirms several non-compliances to the City regulation: exterior storage; uncleanliness of some lots; backyard sheds exceeding the authorized number (one per lot); decaying mobile homes; etc.

After several negotiations, the Borough confirms its willingness to intervene in order to settle these problems. It must first determine which municipal regulation applies to mobile home parks located on its territory.

In 2016, the Borough produces an Information Sheet titled: Aperçu de la règlementation municipale ayant trait aux parcs de maisons mobiles. This sheet summarizes the rules from the zoning By-law (Règlement de zonage), the Règlement sur la construction et la transformation de bâtiments and the Règlement sur la propreté et les nuisances applicable to mobile home parks. The sheet is posted online on the Borough’s website and distributed to every mobile home in the park.

In 2017, the Borough inspects each of the 94 installations on the property: interventions are made regarding regulatory violations that were identified and the Borough commits to follow up as required to ensure that these non-compliances are remedied. Our office will follow up in 2018 on the management of municipal non-compliances.

Only one question is still pending: deficiencies in the aqueduct and sewer networks and the resulting inconveniences for the citizens (frequent water leaks; poor water pressure during these leaks; odours; notice to boil water in effect for several years). We pursue our intervention in this respect.

Bird Frighteners: Noise and Nuisances (2009)

In a previous file, citizens had submitted a complaint so that three bird frighteners installed in the Anjou sur le Lac neighborhood would be removed. They were complaining that they were greatly prejudicial to their quality of life and hoping that Arrondissement d’Anjou would find other solutions to keep starlings away from this area. Citizens were also complaining that the administration had not consulted citizens of the area, before installing such devices

Following our 2008 interventions, the frequency of use of these frighteners were significantly reduced. The borough had also undertaken to properly analyze the question and to organize a public consultation on the subject, before it would decide to reinstall or not these devices, in 2009. We, therefore, made a follow-up.

Our intervention confirmed that the borough has indeed held a public meeting which many citizens of the area attended: they got the opportunity to explain their position and make their point of view understood. Following this reunion, it was agreed that the frighteners would be reinstalled in 2009, but that the hours of release would be reduced and some devices would be moved further away from residences. The citizens were satisfied.

In all likelihood, the borough will reinstall these bird frighteners in 2010, but not necessarily in the following years. According to experts, the “black bird dormitory” problem should normally be resolved after 3 years of using bird frighteners: the borough will therefore reevaluate the situation, from year to year.

Irritants deriving from sporting activities in a public park (2008)

A citizen from Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles was complaining about various irritants deriving from the sporting activities going on in the Clémentine-de-la-Rousselière park, located near her residence.

She was complaining, namely, about the intensity of the lighting system of the softball fields, the light from it shining directly in her home. Our investigation revealed, however, that the intensity and layout of this lighting was consistent with the requirements of Québec’s Régie de la sécurité dans les sports, for softball fields: the borough could not, therefore, modify them.

Our investigation confirmed, however, that, in spite of the applicable municipal by-law, these projectors would often remain open until midnight and, sometimes, even later. Indeed, they were turned on and off manually by a municipal employee who, if he was retained elsewhere for an emergency, could not turn off the projectors before 11 p.m.

Following our intervention, Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Praires – Pointe-aux-Trembles accepted to install a timer that will automatically turn off these projectors at 11 p.m., every night: this timer will also be programmable “on demand” so that the projectors can be turned off earlier, whenever the planned schedule of games allows it. The borough undertook to have this timer in working order as early as the 2009 season and the Ombudsman will make the appropriate follow-up.

The citizen was also complaining about the speakers used during softball games, of the music that was sometimes incredibly loud and of the announcements made by the animators, all of which disturbed her peace and affected her quality of life. She was also contesting the fact that the borough was allowing the sale of alcohol in the park, during such games.

The use of speakers and the sale of alcohol are generally not permitted in municipal parks. The borough can grant a special authorization, however, during special events such as softball tournaments. Animation and music can, indeed, create more of an ambiance and contribute to the success of such events whereas the sale of some alcoholic drinks can ensure its profit-earning capacity: this income is often important for the concerned sports associations and for the continuation of these tournaments, in future years.

In light of these explanations, our office could not conclude that the special authorizations given to softball tournaments organizers were unreasonable, unjust or inappropriate, especially since such authorizations are only granted in a pin-pointed manner, during the summer.

Nonetheless, at our request, the borough contacted the different tournament organizers to ask them to limit the use of speakers during the evening, in order for the neighbours to be less inconvenienced.

The last aspect of the citizen’s complaint related to the fact that some people would sometimes urinate around the park and even on neighbouring private grounds. At our request, signs were installed by the borough, near the softball fields, in order to inform players and spectators of the existence of public restrooms, a little further away in the park, and to indicate the way to get to them. The idea of permanent chemical restrooms was not retained, due to the high risk of vandalism.

We followed up on these undertakings in 2009.

The timer is functional. The baseball field’s projectors are manually turned on before games, and they automatically turn off at 11:00 p.m.

The borough met with the various associations at the end of the 2008 season and at the beginning of the 2009 one and sensitize them to the importance of better managing the cleanliness of the park, rude behaviour, and the use of speakers.

The borough also took special interest in the activities taking place in this park and employees made regular rounds during these events.

The borough has thus respected its engagement and the citizen has declared herself satisfied in regards to the measures taken.