Kingston Bylaws – Noise

noise bylaw in KingstonWell, I hate to say it, but this will be the last post on bylaws before the students return and school is back in full swing.  This seems like a good time to talk about noise bylaws, not only because there are bound to be a few parties over the next few weeks, but also because summertime lends itself to more noise with us all spending more time outdoors.

The amount of noise you are allowed to make outdoors is dependent on your location.  The city has put out this handy map to show us the various zones.  Areas such as downtown have a little more leniency to allow for outdoor concerts and other events.  In residential areas however, loud music or partying is never acceptable.  In fact, any sound that could be considered disruptive to your neighbours is illegal.  This includes loud motors, music, yelling, squealing tires, using your car horn unnecessarily (that’s right, you’re not supposed to honk when you pick someone up), dogs barking persistently…the list goes on.

One reader asked us about fireworks specifically and the reality is, we’re not actually supposed to shoot off fireworks at all.  I spoke with a City of Kingston Bylaw Officer and he explained that although fireworks are legal, firing off a Roman Candle in your yard is considered a noise-related offense.  Of course, we’ve all done it and these types of laws can only be enforced if those around us are disturbed enough to call in a complaint.

So, since these laws are only enforced when complained about, a good first step is to learn to live in harmony.  If you have a neighbour who is disturbing your peace, try talking to him or her first, and be sure to keep yourself in check – remember, we all have different schedules.  You may think playing your tunes loudly at 11am is fine but maybe the guy next door just got in from a night shift.  If we all make an effort to respect each others’ right to peace and quiet, we’ll all be much happier.  …and if you do plan to have a party, take this piece of advice: your neighbours won’t complain if you invite them to join in on the fun.

Have a great, bluesy weekend, Kingston!

Thanks to Brad. K for today’s pic.

Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

20 thoughts on “Kingston Bylaws – Noise

    • Sorry if that was too general. I do think it's safe to say that *most* Canadians have experienced fireworks in their yard at some point in their lives.

        • Really? When I was growing up, Victoria Day and Canada Day were all about backyard fireworks and many of my neighbours now do it every time those holidays come around. If that isn't so, then why do stores sell fireworks around those holidays?

          • Same experience from my formidable years as well. Uncles all in charge of launching fireworks during the big holiday weekend celebrations.

          • I grew up in Kingston and we did the backyard firework thing for all the long weekends too. But I'm guessing those in big cities maybe don't do that as much?

          • Bingo. Kingston is a place wher you can get away with it. Downtown toronto or calgary or vancouver its not so easy or accepted. In Regina its illegal to light fireworks in your yard. I think lighting them off for sh!ts and giggles might be a local custom here. But customs vary from city to city. I grew up in ygk (never let off firecrackers) but just spent 13 years in yyc and not once did my neighbours let off firecrackers in the inner-city neighbourhoods that we lived in. On holidays it was more common to go to the local city-sponsored events. You couldnt buy firecrackers in the corner stores…. At least not in our neighbouhoods.

          • hmm, well I grew up in a bigger city than Kingston and we did it all the time. In fact, for many years, the whole neighbourhood would meet at the public school playground and shoot them off together. We would burn all the flaming school houses at the same time and the kids would sing Joy to the World. I just assumed this was a more commond tradition as I've done it in other cities too. It's amazing the difference a few hundred kilometres can make. Then again, I never had poutine til I moved to Kingston…

            …so what was this post about again?

  • I would like to "like" this post! I call in noise violations all the time. Why encourage the perpetrators by letting them think their disturbances are acceptable?

  • " In residential areas however, loud music or partying is never acceptable."

    Where does it say that in the bylaw? Music or other amplified sounds are not allowed at anytime, but that's not usually why parties are shut down.

    "Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, singing or the playing of musical instruments, including percussion instruments" is permitted until 21h00.

    So when my neighbour comes over at 8pm on a Saturday because I'm having a loud BBQ in my backyard, I want to tell him to go screw himself.

    Also, the police are propagating this myth that you can't generate noise at anytime. There are specific rules on the type of noise and time.

    • It looks as though you are right with regards to hooting and hollering. You can do that until 9pm – why you would feel the need to do that is beyond me….but according to 4.1, you can't make noises such as loud music, squealing tires etc. at any time of day. Really, it just comes down to not being a jerk. If your neighbour is bothered enough at 8pm (perhaps because he or she has a baby that needs to sleep or they just worked a double shift) to come over and say something, the decent thing to do is at least make an attempt to be a good neighbour by lowering your tunes or asking your friends to refrain from yelling. Regardless of bylaws, I always keep my neighbours in mind when we're out in the yard. It's simply a matter of being considerate.

    • Sorry, but the students that live next my house party until 5AM with hundreds of them (their friends?) in the building. This type of partying goes on and on and on. I'm not sure why they're even going to Queen's? If you're a full time student then it should be impossible to drink almost every night and expect to pass. Also, I'm tired of my house, car and property being constantly vandalized. The garbage thrown on my property is disgusting. I'm not sure why you think it's ok, to have "… a loud BBQ…" in your backyard? I pay the property taxes here and they're amongst the highest in the nation. I have a right to a peaceful existence here in Kingston. I for one am glad the Kingston police enforce the law. I'm also glad that the city fines those that fail to comply.

  • FIREWORKS are the bane of my existence. Oh.. and beagles. If I could rid my neighbourhood of those two things, I wouldn't be moving (but in three years they've just gotten worse, so I *am*moving.) Yep, the noise has been SO annoying we've sold our house and are leaving.

  • What I am interested in is if there is a by-law involving cleanup after horses. I'm sure you can be fined for not picking up after a dog, but they guy running the horse-drawn carriage tours along King St. seems perfectly content to leave horse apples all over the road. It smells, and cars track it all along the road, making cleanup impossible. I'm not saying he should stop the tour and get out the shovel, and I'm sure the smell of manure makes a guided tour of historic Kingston more "authentic," but I know they have sort of horse diapers to control this type of situation.

    • I've wondered about that myself many times. I see the police with their horses leaving behind huge amounts of…apples. I'll have to look into that.

  • I filed one noise complaint, it was during the spring of 2010 / yelling, crying and very loud thumping against a wall that seemed to vibrate above and below me; it was obviously a fight between a man and a woman / the noise was unable to sleep through … it was 3 in the morning, two constables arrived 3.30am, visited the place where I said the noise was coming from… shortly after they visited me to say "get along" and left — wtf? how professional is that? my monthly rent doesn't cover excessive noise from violence; i'm okay with neighbours having their music up, laughing as I know they're having a good time and I've done that countless times in my 20s but the yelling, crying and thumping is not acceptable and I'm still severely pissed at the cops who obviously did nothing as they seemed rushed to get back to their car to count their timbits

  • It's so sad to me that even though we have the by laws on our side, victims of noisy neighbours are the only ones who suffer any real consequence. Why should we have to Put up with noisy parties until we give in and move?

  • How about trucks that idle at 11:30 at nite for an hour. I get to listen to one that pulls up behind Harvey's on Princess St. in Kingston. It drives me nuts. In the summer is to hot to close windows.

  • I really wish that only the city could set off fireworks. I'm in Bayridge, and every holiday weekend during spring/summer/fall there are people setting off their fireworks. The noise isn't so much what concerns me (although it is annoying — I work weekends, and it's impossible to sleep when people are having their fun with their alcohol and fireworks), but this is a residential area where conceivably someone's home or property could be damaged by careless use of fireworks.

    Another commenter mentioned they were moving because of the fireworks noise. I'm moving as well, just have had enough. The place where I grew up had great fireworks displays, but they were done responsibly by the fire department, well out on the water away from people and property. It's unfortunate that Kingston can't seem to do the same.

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