Good Neighbour Bylaws
The municipalities of Foothills County and Rockyview County are some of the most beautiful and desirable locales in all of Alberta. Over the last three or so decades, the population has increased significantly. What was once a collection of widely spaced farms and ranches now includes new and growing hamlets, acreage subdivisions and much more densely populated areas in general.
Along with the increasing population comes an increasing number of motorbikes, dogs, ATV’s, target practices and other intrusive accoutrements of “country living”. I’ve heard residents espouse the “It’s my land and I can do whatever I want” doctrine. That’s true to a certain extent, but when activities impact the neighbours, it becomes a different situation. If you ascribe to that doctrine, then I’m sure you won’t mind my plans to get rich quick by building a 2,000 unit hog barn adjacent to our joint property line. Doesn’t everyone love the smell of nice rich hog manure?
They say good fences make good neighbours. Unfortunately, you can’t fence in sounds, smells, or light and so county bylaws have evolved to address this issue. Foothills County has a Noise bylaw that states, “No person shall … make, continue, cause or allow to be made or continued any excessive, unnecessary, or unusual Noise of any type”. “Noise” is further defined to include “…the activity generating the sound, is likely to unreasonably annoy, disturb, injure or detract from the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of any Person within the limits of the Municipal District of Foothills No. 31.” Violation of the bylaws can lead to mandated remedial action or a fine. I’m sure Rockyview County has something very similar.
I looked up the definition of “repose” as it’s not part of my everyday vocabulary. One of the definitions pertains to “eternal or heavenly rest”. Well I’m not ready for that yet. Another more appropriate definition refers to “peace and tranquility”. That I can live with. Literally.
I reached out to Sgt. Darlene Roblin, Emergency Services Manager for Foothills County, who, until just recently, directly oversaw the 4 frontline Peace Officers in Foothills County. (Her new title now includes all emergency services.) In 2018, the officers investigated and concluded 428 complaints. In 2019 it was 509 complaints. Additionally, Peace Officers are busy with proactive traffic safety initiatives and enforcement. They are involved in supporting community events like the Millarville Run to the Market, Spruce Meadows Salute to First Responders, CP Holiday Train, school walkathons and the like. I asked her for the top 3 items/ behaviours that would make a better neighbour from a bylaw perspective. She was kind enough to respond with the following:
- Please talk to your neighbours. People complain rather than actively becoming part of the solution. Common responses Officers often get when investigating a complaint is “Why wouldn’t they just come talk to me about this? Why would they call you without trying to work this out with us first?” Obviously this won’t work all the time, but people might be surprised at how others would be willing to listen to their concerns directly.
- Please make sure your dogs are not running at large or barking too much. Dog complaints are consistently one of the most frequent points of conflict between neighbours. There have also been a number of dog biting incidents over the past few years.
- Simply be considerate to others. Speak with your neighbours, let them know if you are planning a get together that they might be able to hear. Neighbours who talk to one another, engage with each other will tend to look out for each other and their properties. With rural crime being an issue in our region, banding together as a community is a great way to make sure we are watching out for each other and the end result is a win for everyone.
Regarding the last point, I’ve had a neighbour let me know when she was having a Stampede Event adjacent to us. It made a lot of difference just knowing what was going on and what to expect.
Please be considerate of your neighbours and your community.
HCRCWA Board Member