While The Glorious Sons concert in September promises to be the loudest event at Richardson Stadium this year, it won’t be the only time neighbours hear events at the Queen’s University venue.
The application for a noise bylaw exemption for The Glorious Sons concert of Sept. 21 came before city council only a few minutes after debate about permitting amplified music at sporting events at the stadium.
Excessive noise from Richardson Stadium has been a source of annoyance for residents living in neighbourhoods around the site.
“This sort of request should be rare and unusual,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said. “In this particular case, we are talking about a request that is very rare and very unusual that should attain a very high threshold. We should not ordinarily grant something like this.”
Paterson stressed that the concert exemption was completely separate from sporting events held at the stadium, the request coming after a long debate about a noise exemption request for 18 months of athletic events.
“You can probably guess if my residents on Oak Ridge and Gibson have problems with amplified music in sporting events ending at 9:30 p.m., they are going to have a problem with a full-blown rock concert going to 11 p.m.,” Sydenham District Coun. Peter Stroud said.
“I do not understand why this cannot be in Market Square,” said Stroud, adding that he was concerned it would set a precedent for other concerts at the stadium.
The exemptions are to allow the playing of amplified music – prohibited under the city’s noise bylaw – on about 47 days for Queen’s University, community sporting events and multi-day sports tournaments in both 2019 and 2020.
In addition to Queen’s varsity teams, the stadium is used by the Junior Gaels Football Club (formerly known as the Limestone District Grenadiers), the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association, Junior Gaels soccer team (formerly known as the Kingston Clippers Soccer Club) and other ultimate frisbee, flag football and field hockey teams.
Queen’s usually seeks noise exemptions annually, but this year it asked for an exemption for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020.
The longer than normal time frame in this request was meant to allow Queen’s to set its varsity schedule.
After 2020, future noise bylaw exemption requests are to be made on a calendar year basis.
Council voted 9-3-1 in favour of the 18-month exemption period, but not without some councillors voicing concerns they have heard from people living around the area.
“I got to admit, I have been listening to this for 13 years now and there seems to me that there is noise request creep. That’s where something keeps increasing,” King’s Town District Coun. Rob Hutchison said. “Yes there are adjustments, and bits and pieces and people monitoring, but the complaints continue.”
Complaints about the noise from events at Richardson Stadium are a lingering problem, said Stroud, who added that area residents feel they are being ignored by city officials.
“We have to do the right thing,” Stroud said.
Council considered granting noise exemptions for the rest of 2019 only but opted instead to provide the full 18 months.
The university was commended for its efforts to reduce noise, and the newly rebuilt stadium helps reduce ambient noise levels as well.
Lakeside District Coun. Wayne Hill said the university’s role in the community has improved as it has started to allow community groups to use more of its facilities.
Pittsburgh District Coun. Ryan Boehme said noise from the stadium is part of the trade-off to having a world-class institution like Queen’s.
“The reality is we live in a city. We can’t expect to have no sound,” Williamsville District Coun. Jim Neill said.
With the stadium hosting an event almost every weekend through the summer, Trillium District Coun. Robert Kiley suggested reducing the number of days permitted under the exemption in order to give neighbours some respite.
But between scheduled varsity sports games and the Canada Cup football tournament in mid-July, there is little room to limit days, city staff said.
“If there are days that are not needed, I don’t think we should be permitting those going forward,” Kiley said.
“People living in this area have every single weekend with this noise. If there are three weekends we can give them rest, I think we should do that.”