— Star photo by Gary Kean
When Margaret Hicks thought visits from her grandchildren might end, she was heartbroken.
Two summers ago, the Concord Avenue woman had her two young granddaughters staying with her while her son came home to Corner Brook for a summer visit.
Grandma expected some noise with a pair of children in her house. What she didn’t expect were the disturbances from the nearby Broadway area night clubs that would put a damper on her family’s stay.
The blaring music would either keep the children awake at night or in constant fear they would be awoken. Her son Gerald left that summer, claiming he would not return to such disturbances, says Hicks.
She called police at the time. She contacted city council. Bar owners — primarily Dave McHugh of McHugh’s bar — responded. Everybody seemingly wanted to get along and be courteous of one another. McHugh even renovated his business, taking down the garage doors which opened the club to the outdoors. The noise from the bar echoing throughout the neighbourhood was reduced.
Hicks, who has lived in the Broadway area for 44 years, said she enjoyed a peaceful summer in 2013.
“It was so good last year that it was unbelievable,” she said.
Her son and grandchildren have returned. Unfortunately, so did the noise.
“Saturday night they broke lose,” Hicks said. “Hell broke loose and all that was in it.”
At about 11:30 p.m., she followed the blare of music to McHugh’s. She said two doors of the bar were being kept open.
She called the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Police responded, and Const. Scott Mosher confirmed officers asked staff to be courteous of people in the area and abide by the city noise bylaw and regulations.
Hicks said all was well until about 2:30 a.m.
“I said, ‘Oh God, where is it coming from now?” she said.
This time the noise bellowed from Jennifer’s, she said, where a wedding was being held.
“Sweet mother of God, what a racket,” she said. “I had been just settling down to go to sleep again.”
Hicks just prayed her grandchildren wouldn’t be awakened.
These were just the latest incidents this summer, she said. The problem is not isolated to these particular establishments, but has been an issue with respect to many of the clubs along the downtown area.
She said the problem escalates in the summer, when windows and doors open to alleviate heat. However, doing so is a breach of the city noise bylaw and regulations.
“They should be air conditioned and sound proof,” she said. “We can’t have anything going on at our house, and why would you? It would disturb the neighbours.”
She said allowing patios at these bars has increased the problems.
“They are only inviting them out,” she said.
Hicks said she has again been contacting some members of council, but had yet to get a response. She was disappointed by that.
Mosher said the noise complaints are typically isolated and definitely seasonal. He said staff and management are usually compliant.
As with other areas of the city, the officer said patrols typically ask for and receive compliance.
There is typically no need for enforcement such as tickets or charges. However, officers will refer any serious issues or continual non-compliance to the city, he said.