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Vancouver Islander fed up with ongoing horn-honking in support of overpass flag-wavers

City’s noise bylaw does not restrict roadside demonstrators from inciting others to make noise

A Nanaimo man fed up with all the honking for flag-wavers on a local overpass wants the city to see its noise bylaw from his perspective.

Rory MacIver, who lives near the pedestrian overpass that crosses the old Island Highway at Norwell Drive, hears honking nearly every day from vehicles passing under the overpass where protesters have been gathering to wave Canadian flags.

MacIver said blaring vehicle horns are becoming more annoying as protests and demonstrations have become more frequent on the overpass.

“It started happening generally when the weather’s nice … It used to be kept just to the weekends,” he said, adding that it now happens on weekdays, too.

“Summer’s coming. I’m a retired guy and I’m really looking forward to enjoying my yard and I really don’t want to listen to these. The car horns are annoying, but the semi [truck] horns are really quite loud,” MacIver said.

MacIver complained to the City of Nanaimo, but bylaw officers say there is no provision in Nanaimo’s noise bylaw that prevents demonstrators from encouraging drivers to honk their horns.

“The noise bylaw … it’s beautiful, the way it’s written, but if it’s not enforced then it’s not really much help,” MacIver said.

The City of Nanaimo’s noise control bylaw states that “no person shall make, cause or permit to be made any noise or sound in or on a highway or elsewhere, in a private or public place, in the municipality, which disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons in the vicinity.”

MacIver argues that demonstrators are essentially inciting drivers passing by to make noise and are therefore the cause of the noise.

“The people honking their horns are making the noise and the people on the overpass with their signs are kind of causing that to happen … it never happens when they’re not there,” he said. “Do you think it’s just coincidence that it happens every time people are up there people honk?”

MacIver said he has nothing against any specific group and doesn’t care about the flag-wavers’ agenda.

“Whoever is breaking the bylaw should stop breaking the bylaw,” he said.

MacIver said he is not aware of any of his neighbours filing noise complaints about the demonstrations, even though some of their backyards face the highway and are even closer to the pedestrian overpass.

Dave LaBerge, city manager of bylaw services and community safety, said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin that the complaint is a “curious interpretation” of Nanaimo’s noise bylaw.

“There is no provision which makes it an offence to incite others to produce excessive noise,” he said.

LaBerge said the demonstrators are exercising their right to peacefully protest and motorists honking as a response to the presence of protesters is not inherently causation.

“If we were to follow this logic, supporters of political parties who stand on the side of the road waving signs for their favourite candidate at election time would be liable to prosecution when passing motorists honk in support,” LaBerge said. “Intermittent honking on a major highway during daytime hours does not meet the definition of noise causing a disturbance.”

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Demonstrators wave Canadian flags from atop the pedestrian overpass at the old Island Highway and Norwell Drive on Friday, March 25. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Demonstrators wave Canadian flags from atop the pedestrian overpass at the old Island Highway and Norwell Drive on Friday, March 25. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)