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“Dangerous, destructive and abusive” situation leads Bracebridge council to look at changes to noise by-law

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Bracebridge council will be making amendments to the town’s existing noise by-law.

It comes after Deborah Anderson and Ray Zylstra spoke to council, detailing how they’re tired of having to deal with constant noise and intimidation from their neighbours. 

The pair first reached out to Bracebridge council in December in hopes of convincing them to make changes to the town’s noise by-law. 

They spoke to council virtually on Wednesday. Anderson said that what’s been happening has been “seriously escalating” for the past two years. That includes alleged stunt driving causing tire squealing, fishtailing, and speeding. She added the people, who she said live nearby but didn’t specify how close, host loud parties and set off fireworks at times not allowed by the current noise by-law. On top of that, Anderson told council they have dealt with intimidation and verbal threats.

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“This situation is becoming more dangerous destructive and abusive,” Anderson says. “We feel let down by all the authorities having jurisdiction.”

Anderson and Zylstra provided council with pictures and videos of what they allege to have happened but didn’t make that information public.

Between the Bracebridge OPP and the town’s by-law department, Anderson believes not enough is being done to make them feel safe. 

Michael Mayer, Bracebridge’s Chief By-Law Officer, said they have spoken with the property owner in question, but so far no charges have been laid. 

“We are requesting additions to the current bylaw to strengthen it and prevent serious consequences in the future,” Anderson asked council. She added that the by-law needs to clearly lay out what isn’t allowed and has to be easy to enforce. Anderson asked for an increase in the penalties if a person continues to offend. She also wants to see more communication between by-law and the OPP. She noted during her presentation how she felt the two sides didn’t do enough to make her feel safe in her home. 

She suggested they install speed limit signs on Matthiasville Road or add speed bumps. Neither are currently installed on the road.

“It befuddles me that it has to get to this point,” Deputy Mayor Rick Maloney said, adding this isn’t the first dispute of this nature that he’s heard of. He said he’s frustrated by the response from the police and agreed with Anderson’s assessment that better communication needs to be had between the OPP, by-law, and the complainant. “There is an opportunity to have a very frank discussion with our OPP colleagues,” he said.

Coun. Don Smith later suggested a delegration from the Bracebridge OPP be invited to a future general Committee meeting, which the rest of council agreed with. 

Council later suggested amendments be made to the existing noise by-law: reduce or eliminate the 15-minute timeframe for people being allowed to run the engine of a stationary vehicle on their property, look at the feasibility of restricting the operation of stationary or moving vehicles on private property in a way that results in tire squealing, and/or done without an exhaust muffler. Town staff will review that and report back to council at a later meeting.

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