Natural Justice Denied – Residents Challenge London City Council over Noise Pollution
There is increasing concern about the negative impacts of environmental noise on health, especially in urban areas. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that exposure to excessive environmental noise not only harms quality of life and causes hearing loss; it also has other negative health impacts, such as cardiovascular effects, cognitive damage, sleep disturbance and mental health implications.
These findings prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the non-auditory health implications of environmental noise in 2009 and 2011. They concurred that cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, mental health and cardiovascular effects could occur at levels commonly experienced in urban environments. The WHO evaluation confirms that negatie health effects can occur at levels between 42 and 60 dBA outdoors, which is below the 70 dBA benchmark that was previously considered protective of health. The available evidence suggests that environmental noise sustained at 70 dBA could be detrimental to health.
These health impacts were raised by residents in London Ontario who have been tormented for years by illegal activities from taverns, restaurants and clubs that ignored by-laws that prohibited amplified entertainment on commercial patios. For years residents complained but the City of London NEVER enforced their own by-law.
Now the City of London has approved amplified entertainment on commercial patios city-wide. Council not only ignored the serious health impacts associated with amplified noise pollution, they went an undemocratic step further to ensure residents have no ‘right of appeal’.
This was necessary to ensure commercial patio owners went unchallenged.
How did they do this? London City Council has given sole discretionary powers as to who will receive a permit for amplified entertainment on commercial patios to the Chief By-law Officer. That one unelected person will decide who gets a permit for amplified entertainment and how loud that entertainment can be. Since the condition of the permit is at the discretion of the Chief By-law Officer, there are no avenues to appeal because there is no ‘by-law’ that sets a city-wide standard. It is ad hoc, vulnerable to bias and prejudices, as well as corruption.
This would be the same person who failed to enforce the original by-law that prohibited amplified entertainment on patios.
The only appeal open to residents is to sue the city in a civil action because a noise by-law cannot be appealed to a land-use tribunal, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which protects a person’s right to appeal a municipal land use decision.
The City then took the extra step to block residents’ right to appeal by ensuring noise restrictions are also discretionary up to 70 decibels at ‘point of reception’. In other words, 70 decibels is the acceptable ‘loudness’ of amplified entertainment at your front window – your window being the point of reception of the nearest residential property.
How loud is 70 decibels at your window? LOUD - too loud to be sustained over several hours. It would be equal to a loud vacuum cleaner running outside your window, potentially from 9am to midnight (limit of permit) - daily.
Please support our campaign to challenge London City Council to allow amplified entertainment on patios city-wide at 70 decibels and protect our right to appeal. This is not an issue of 'not in my back yard' as the noise by-law is city wide and patios are guaranteed in London to all restaurants and taverns.
We need to raise $30,000 for legal and planning experts to testify at an appeal to the OMB. Please give generously. This impacts all residents across London.
Thank you and Bless.
North Talbot Neighbourhood
In support of Residents Against Noise
- a coalition of London residnets appealing the actions of London City Council.