Wednesday, May 08, 2013

An Open Letter to David Pollock, Mayor of Beaconsfield

Every month, Beaconsfield circulates a newsletter called CONTACT that lets us citizens know about all the great stuff happening in our town - like eBooks (and French eBooks) from the library, swimming lessons, hazardous waste collection days and the like.  This month, I noticed a little notice about changes to the noise/nuisance bylaws for Sundays.  It used to be that the only time you could mow your lawn or do renovations on a Sunday was between noon and 4PM.  This was a bit annoying sometimes, but I totally understand the need for a bit of peace and quiet.  Apparently, this wasn't enough peace and/or quiet for some folks, because now you can't use any motorized equipment at all, at any time on Sundays.

So I wrote a letter to the mayor, which I sent on May 3, 2013.  As of this writing (May 8) I haven't heard back.

Mr. Pollock,    As I read this month's CONTACT, I was very disturbed to find that the city's noise by-laws had been amended to prohibit the use of any motorized equipment or tools at any time on Sundays.
While I appreciate the need for controlling noise pollution, this by-law presents a number of problems, both practical and philosophical.
Neither Kirkland or Pointe-Claire restrict noise on Sundays to such an extent.  This means that Beaconsfield residents who live on the borders of these other cities can still be subject noise coming from their neighbours in  those municipalities.  In fact, no other municipality in West Island has such restrictive regulations.
In many families, both adults work full or part time, leaving the weekends as the only time for activities and yard maintenance.  Given the vagaries of the summer weather, it is not uncommon for one of the weekend days to be rainy and unsuitable for yard work.  In addition, families with children often find themselves shuttling between multiple activities on one of the weekend days, and this by-law further complicates their lives needlessly.
My last argument, is a moral one, and perhaps the most important.  The choice of Sunday as a quiet day, or day of rest, reflects a strong Christian cultural bias on the part of Beaconsfield.  I am Jewish, and though I am not overly observant, my traditional day of rest is Saturday.  The choice of Sunday by the city is based solely on tradition, since I am sure that the majority of "Christian" residents of Beaconsfield do not regularly attend church.  Although Beaconsfield has a reputation for a certain degree of cultural homogenity, the population is rapidly become more diverse and the value judgement implied by the new by-law does not reflect an openness of spirit toward residents of different cultural communities.
I appreciate the need for controlling noise pollution, and I applaud council for it's proactive approach.  However, the previous version of the by-law was already among the most restrictive in the West Island. The current by-law will ultimately be ineffective because it cannot protect those Beaconsfield residents who live adjacent to neighbouring municipalities.  It is needlessly restrictive and authoritarian and discriminatory.
I trust your better judgement will consider a revision of this by-law.
Please do not hesitate to contact me, should you have any questions.
Michael Lautman

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