Statement on Hampstead’s Nuisance By-law

2011-10-04

Presented at the Monday, October 3, 2011 Town Council Meeting

Recent media reports have painted a false portrait of Hampstead's Nuisance By-law. What began with a fairly benign complaint about the lack of a building permit quickly spiraled out of control on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. It became fodder for debate on television, radio and in newspapers across Quebec. Some of the information was correct, but much was not. It is important for us to provide some clarity.

Hampstead's nuisance by-law, like those of most municipalities, has several provisions to limit excessive and disturbing noise. It does not allow construction work on weekdays before 7am or after 9pm. On weekends, it does not permit it before 9am or after 6pm. The same hours apply to excessive noise from leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and similar noisy equipment. In addition, the by-law bans such work on days when most residents are not working and want peace and tranquility. These include Labour Day, Canada Day, Thanksgiving, New Year's Day and other legal holidays. They also include Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Monday. Since our community is about 85% Jewish, we have included three additional days when most of our residents are expecting a quiet, restful atmosphere. Those are the two days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This by-law, in its current version, has been in effect for over a year and it has been well respected. We do not ban work indoors nor quiet outdoor work.

Our Nuisance By-law is readily accessible on our web site. It does not ban work in general but only excessively noisy and disturbing work. It is not related to any one religion but to times and days when most residents want peace and tranquility, whether those days are secular or religious holidays. The common factor is that most residents are not at work on those days or at those hours.

It is unfortunate that the Town of Hampstead is being accused of imposing the religious views of our majority on the minority when we are just being even-handed. It is, and will always remain, our responsibility to respond to the needs and wishes of residents of this community. We have done just that. Hampstead is a secular town which has not, does not and will never discriminate against any minority.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead