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B.C. tribunal dismisses man's noise complaint over music school noise

The B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal has cleared a strata council after a man made persistent noise disputes over his music school neighbour.
Geoffrey Michael Plante failed to prove the noise breached strata bylaws, found the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

A man who repeatedly complained to his strata about noises coming from a neighbouring music school has had his case dismissed by the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal. 

This is the second time Geoffrey Michael Plante has taken his strata before the tribunal. In a 2021 decision, he sought $2,000 in damages due to noise from the adjacent unit. 

In his latest complaint, released Wednesday, the man sought $3,500 in damages for the ongoing noise that could last for hours at a time. Plante claimed the strata had failed to carry out a reasonable investigation into the ongoing noise and enforce its own bylaws. 

In his submissions, Plante said the strata failed to follow the terms of the tribunal’s 2021 orders. 

In the 2021 dispute, the strata agreed the noise from the music school was a nuisance, and hired a contractor to carry out sound transfer testing. That testing showed the wall was “reasonably in line with expected performance.”

Sound from pianos was found to travel through a shared concrete floor. The contractors recommended either installing a floating floor under the pianos or mounting them on noise isolators. The music school installed individual isolators in February 2022, but in emails to the strata, Plante said the noise from the school had not changed.

After a number of failed attempts, in December 2022, a strata subcommittee entered Plante’s unit while someone was playing music next door. The recordings were provided to the council, who later agreed the music did not rise to the level of nuisance. 

Tribunal member Nav Shukla found the body had no jurisdiction to enforce the 2021 order against the strata, and that it could only be carried out by the B.C. Supreme Court or B.C. Provincial Court.

But she did find ongoing and repeated noise complaints should be considered new incidents. One question before the tribunal, wrote Shukla in her decision, was to gauge whether the noise was unreasonable.

An “unreasonable noise is noise that represents a substantial, non-trivial interference with the use and enjoyment of property,” and depends on factors like its “nature, severity, duration, and frequency” and whether an ordinary person would agree, Shukla wrote. 

Plante, therefore, would need to provide evidence from neutral third-party observations, decibel readings or professional reports to back up his claims, said Shukla.

“The difficulty for Mr. Plante is that he has provided little in the form of objective evidence that assists in this analysis,” ruled the tribunal member. 

Shukla dismissed Plante’s complaint, finding the strata’s investigation to the ongoing noise complaints was “reasonable” and that the resident failed to prove the noise breached strata bylaws. 

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