Kitchener defers asking Ever After music festival to turn down volume

City staff have recommended asking the Ever After Music Festival to turn down the tunes after more than 100 noise complaints on the Sunday of the three-day festival last year. The city's community and infrastructure services committee voted to defer a decision on the matter.

Staff suggesting also having noise officer on site to keep an ear on the volume

City of Kitchener staff have recommended lowering the allowable noise limit for the Ever After Music Festival at Bingemans after more than 100 noise complaints in just one night. (EverAfterMusicFest/Facebook)

Numerous noise complaints about the Ever After Music Festival – including more than 100 on the Sunday of the three-day event in 2017 – has led Kitchener staff to consider asking organizers to turn the music down a bit.

In a report to the city's community and infrastructure services committee Monday afternoon, staff recommended asking the festival not to go above 55 decibel level (dBA), which is down from the current maximum of 65 dBA.

The annual electronic music festival is scheduled to run from Friday, June 8 at 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 10 at Bingemans in Kitchener's east end. It's expected more than 25,000 people will attend this year's festival.

During last year's festival the vast majority of noise complaints came on the Sunday. The staff report said there are a number of suspected reasons:

  • The music was allowed to be at 65 dBA.
  • There was a low ambient sound level on Sunday evening. More background sound on other nights might have helped mask the music.
  • The nature of the music, which can be bass heavy.

"We had committed to review what had happened over that weekend to determine what the anomaly was, to have such a fluctuation of noise on the Sunday night," said Gloria MacNeil, the director of by-law enforcement at the City of Kitchener.  

Meteorological conditions came into play. There was a temperature inversion where a warm, less dense air mass is positioned over a dense, cold air mass. That "can sometimes cause distant sources of noise to sound much closer than they really are," a staff report said.

Wind speed and direction, along with temperature and humidity, can also affect noise levels for those living in the area.

In 2016, there were just seven noise complaints for the entire weekend after the city set the maximum allowable noise level to 65 dBA. That change came after 57 complaints in 2015.

Musician Dion Timmer tweeted this photo from the Ever After Music Fest at Bingemans in 2017. (@diontimmermusic/Twitter)

Lower volume 'should reduce' complaints

The city asked Novus Environmental in Guelph – an engineering firm with expertise in acoustics and meteorology – to review the 2017 festival.

The firm agreed lowering the maximum level of sound was a good idea.

Doing so "is not expected to eliminate the complaints, but certainly will be an improvement over prior years experience and should reduce community response and complaints," the firm said in a report.

The firm called the move "a reasonable attempt to balance the needs of the affected communities with that of the larger community and cultural, social and economic importance of the event."

MacNeil said Beyond Oz Productions, the promoter for the music festival, are aware of the recommendations city staff are making and was at the council meeting. 

The company is asking council to consider a 60 decibel level (dBA) and an end time of 9:30 p.m. for the festival on the Sunday night. Beyond Oz is also bringing forward a new sound-system, which they say would mitigate the noise concerns. 

MacNeil said the deferral will give her time to look at the new proposal. 

"That would give me an opportunity to investigate the system they're proposing and go back to Novus and work with them to see if what they're proposing would work," she said. 

Staff also recommended the festival to refrain from using offensive language that might be audible to any adjacent residential neighbourhood and to pay for a noise officer to be on site.

Council has deferred the decision for three weeks. MacNeil said the public can provide input by signing up to speak as delegates on Jan. 29. 


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