For the past year, Thorold resident Mark Lefebvre has been terrorized by his neighbour’s late-night garage parties.
Fed up with the lack of response from City Hall, Lefebvre requested a public forum last week that saw him air his grievances to city council.
“I don’t get any remedy from bylaw,” says Lefebvre, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “I’ve provided names for different witnesses but they’ve never been contacted. They’re not doing their job.”
Lefebvre has been living on St. David’s Road for 25 years, but it wasn’t until three years ago that his troubles with the house next door started.
A group of alleged drug dealers moved in, leading to loud late-night parties and house calls. Eventually, the landlord kicked out the renters and sold the house.
Lefebvre thought his troubles were over, but the new tenants of the house have turned their garage into what Lefebvre refers to as “an all-night disco.”
“Mostly it’s loud music that wakes us up out of sleep in the middle of the night,” he says. “It pounds through the windows. There’s also garbage but my big concern is noise. They don’t respect the people’s right to work and to sleep.”
Lefebvre believes there are at least 11 people living in the house, with eight of them owning cars that clog up the street.
While Lefebvre has gone over to the house on multiple occasions to try and resolve the noise complaints, nothing ever changes.
Because the city’s bylaw department only works during the daytime, Lefebvre has to call the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) to complain.
“We’ve called about nine times since June,” Lefebvre says. “They’ll come by and tell them to knock it off. Usually that’s sufficient but they don’t lay charges. They just tell them to stop.”
The issue has also affected some of Lefebvre’s neighbours who have been calling in to complain as well.
“If the neighbours are up at the same time, I can text the other people and we’ll all call the police,” Lefebvre says. “We got a little neighbourhood watch going on.”
Lefebvre was a police constable for ten years so he is familiar with what action is available to him.
But when he calls the NRPS he is told that the issue should be tackled by the city’s bylaw department. When he then calls the bylaw department he is told that after hours noise complaints should be handled by the NRPS.
Lefebvre has also been in touch with the owners of the property to try and mitigate the situation.
The owners tell ThoroldToday they have forwarded Lefebvre's complaints to the property management company they hired to rent out the house: Simki Rentals.
A representative for Simki Rentals tells ThoroldToday that they weren’t made aware of any noise complaints until last week. They also say that the students who live in the house insist there has been no excessive noise since November.
All Lefebvre wants is for City Hall to step in and do their job.
“They’re not enforcing the bylaw, that’s the issue,” he says. “If they would enforce the bylaw, that noise would stop.”
Fed up with the lack of response from City Hall, Lefebvre requested a public forum, which was held last Tuesday.
During the meeting, city councillors unanimously supported Lefebvre’s claims.
“Problematic houses are spread out through Thorold,” said Councillor Henry D’Angela. “It seems that only when something severe happens some action seems to be taken."
After Lefebvre’s presentation, the city’s Director of Development Services, Jason Simpson, explained that the city found no evidence of noise pollution.
“During the day we’ve gone out and sat there for an hour, an hour and a half, on a couple of instances around dinner time,” he said. “We haven’t witnessed any noise.”
Furthermore, Simpson says the police services has told him there is no issue.
“At no time did they have any noise that they found to be offensive or excessive,” Simpson said. “There was once or twice they had asked residents to turn down the noise but even at that the officers had told me it wasn’t because they felt it was excessive but they felt it was just an effort try and keep the peace.”
Lefebvre thinks the bylaw department just doesn’t want to do their job, so it’s easier to dismiss his claims than to take them seriously.
He points to police reports he has obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which corroborate his story.
At the end of the public forum, city council voted to have City Hall draft up a report on the matter.
While the support from city council has strengthened Lefebvre’s resolve, he is not hopeful anything will change.
“From the public forum, I’m going to wait if there are any changes,” Lefebvre says. “If not, I’m going to go to the ombudsman or contact the city to initiate a formal complaint about the bylaw department not doing their job.”
One thing’s for certain, Lefebvre is not giving up the fight.
“We’re not giving up and we’re not moving,” he says. “I just keep at it. I call the police, I’ll yell at them through the window, I’ll go to the house at night. I just keep at it.”