Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

This was on the front page of the Hamilton Spectator, today, Tuesday, June 18,2002.

Begin quote:

City hall has ordered citizen Metro "Mitch" Elash to cease and desist and lay down his bow. He’s been told to stop playing the violin in his house.
"Honest to God, this is the shock of my life," Mitch says.
"Maybe I’m supposed to apologize to someone, but I don’t know why."
Mitch, 80, and wife agnes, 84, live in a bungalow on —————
Avenue, a pretty street on the Brow.
……early each afternoon Mitch goes to the glass case in his living room and chooses a violin. He has three old ones.
Then he goes to the sunroom and plays for about an hour and a half. "It gives me a lift," he says. Waltzes, polkas, two-steps, jigs. Soldier’s Joy, ‘Turkey in the Straw, St. Ann’s Reel, he does them all. But never late at night. "At nine o’clock I’m getting ready for bed."
Mitch was playing the other afternoon when Agnes collected the mail at the front door. There was a letter from the City of Hamilton. Agnes thought it was the tax bill. It was worse than that.
Agnes read it through, then called Mitch over.
"You’d better read this," she said. "But sit down."
It was from standards and licensing: "It has been brought to the attention of this department that residents in your area have been disturbed by noise caused by the level of volume of a violin that may be coming from your property."
The letter told Mitch that Hamilton has a noise bylaw and he would need to obey it: "Please see that this disturbance does not occur again in order to avoid action being taken pursuant to the bylaw."

End quote.

I know Mitch, and he is a fine unassuming gentleman, a wonderful fiddler, but he is not loud. Certainly not loud enough for someone to have a legitimate complaint. It is absolutely inconceivable that the City would send such a letter to him, but they did, and they need to be told that they made a booboo, and that they should apologize to Mitch and Agnes.

Please, everyone, please send an e-mail to Hamilton’s mayor and try to salvage what remains of Mitch’s shredded dignity.
The mayor’s name is Bob Wade, and his e-mail address is below.
If you wish, tell him that scottythefiddler sent you….he has already heard from me on this matter, has my address and phone number, and hopefully can be convinced to do the right thing.
mayorwade@city.hamilton.on.ca <mayorwade@city.hamilton.on.ca>

Thanks to all
Scott Donaldson

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

PS: for those in Canada, Mitch will be on CBC TV and radio on Wednesday, and be in the National Post newspaper as well.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

This is what I sent

Dear Mayor Wade,
It has come to my attention that a letter was sent to an individual who resides within your district requesting this citizen to refrain from playing his violin. I am a citizen of the U.S., specifically of the State of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations. I made a conscious decision to move here based on the living history of Roger Williams. A man who founded this State on behalf of true freedom of thought & religion. I have a great admiration of the Canadian government; Canada has been a great ally in times trouble & prosperity to the United States. Although I am not a Canadian citizen, I do request that Mitch Elash be permitted to play his fiddle within the confines of his own home within reasonable hours.

Respectfully Submitted,
Bradford Maloney

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Okay, so here’s what I sent, which I cc’d to the letters department of the Hamilton Spectator (letters@hamiltonspectator.com):

An open e-mail to the honorable Mayor of Hamilton, Bob Wade:

Dear Mayor Wade:

With some shock, I’ve heard the news of Mr. Metro "Mitch" Elash’s citation from the City of Hamilton, ordering him to cease playing his violins in his own home during daylight hours.

I have been unable to discover what the legal decibel level of Hamilton’s noise pollution laws is, but can’t believe that a single violin could possibly exceed it; a lawn mower can easily drown out a violin, no matter how enthusiastically played the violin is — is Hamilton going to ban the use of gas-powered lawnmowers as well as violins? Surely the complainant could have asked Mr. Elash directly and civilly to cease playing his music or to take it inside his home (instead of a sunroom), rather than involve the city government of Hamilton, which I am relatively certain has better things to do with its resources than fining an elderly man for playing an instrument in his own house.

I am a fiddler myself, and if one of my neighbors ever complained to me about noise (and most fiddlers are perfectly aware that there are people who don’t care for fiddle music), I would surely take steps to ensure that they would not be disturbed by my music again — for instance, using a mute on my fiddle, keeping doors and windows closed while playing, and so on. I can’t believe that Mr. Elash, if given a chance by the complainant, wouldn’t have taken similar steps.

I am a citizen of the United States of America, and have always admired Canada for many reasons; it is dismaying to hear of such goings-on from our usually sensible neighbors to the north. I urge you and the city government of Hamilton not to set a precedent for future actions that may take up valuable resources of your city government, encourage citizens to believe that the government of your city should play go-between in every social conflict, make Hamilton something of a laughing stock in the global community, and further erode the rights of every person to amuse themselves in their own way within the confines of their own homes.

Zina Lee
Denver, Colorado
United States of America

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Hope this helps. I was going to copy the City Council but didn’t know who to send it to.

Dear Mayor Wade,

I am writing in regards to Mr. Mitch Elash, who recently received notice to refrain from playing his violin. I understand that he plays during the day in the privacy of his own home and for a duration that is not unreasonable

I also understand that Hamilton has a noise bylaw. I am not aware of how it was determined that playing his was in violation of this bylaw except that there were complaints from residents in his area. It does not appear that he was given any guidelines that would allow him to continue to play his violin and not violate the noise bylaw.

With all due respect, I presume that such a vague and restrictive bylaw must be violated on a daily basis by anyone that plays a stereo system, people with children, maintaining their yard or in many ways.

I cannot imagine that the spirit of this noise bylaw is so intolerant as to deprive this elderly man of something he enjoys so much. Please reconsider your position on this issue and at the very least give Mr. Elash, some alternative course of action other than to cease playing his violin.

Sincerely
Debra Little
Denver, Colorado
USA

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Dear Mayor Wade,

re Mr Metro Elash.

I’ve become aware of your citys order to Mr Elash to cease playing his violin via The Hamilton Spectator article which has been forwarded to me by internet. I am incidentally a fiddle player also.

I wish to express my dismay at this sotuation. Surely there has been a frivolous complaint made against Mr Elash. Please have your department reassess its response to the complaint. Please do not humiliate Mr Elash in this way.

Yours sincerely,

William Dwyer.

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

This is what I sent (… and I hope it helps).



Dear Mr. Wade,

I

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

God, that is the most insane thing Ive heard in ages!

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

That is just sad. I say we bash the mayor on the head with a violin.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Its quite strange isnt it? I’m from a big city - in the inner city in fact - no big gardens or detached houses where I’m from, everyone managed to get along - the neighbours put up with my fiddling (though they did mention dead cat noises coming from my house in the begining) & I put up with their Kylie Minogue parties. I’m sure that if anyone ever made a complaint to the mayor - he’d just laugh. What is the world coming to when an elderly man cannot even enjoy his fiddle?

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Hey, I just got an e-mail from the letter editor of the Spectator, asking for my (not to be published) home address and daytime telephone number — they might publish it, I do believe…making your letters public is a good idea, since mayors want to be re-elected… :)

Zina

Well, keeping in mind, folks, that the mayor had little or nothing to do with this complaint — a department of the city did that, and the buck has parked itself on his desk. He probably doesn’t personally deserve a thwack on the head with a fiddle. :)

Zina

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Quel stupidite!

Scotty, please pass on my condolences to Mr. Elash regarding the beaurocratic inhumanity of his city council. I hope he is not taking it personally. I know it would really throw my confidence to know anonymous neighbours dislike my playing so much they are stirring up legal trouble. Fortunately I live in a neighbourhood where all day World Cup related honking is commonplace and the rumble of the Dufferin bus shakes the walls of my apartment every five minutes 24 hours a day so my fiddling goes largely un-noted.

My advice is for Mr. Elash to have a ritual public burning of the offending letter and completely ignore both the demands therein and the opinion of his anal retentive neighbours. If the city comes after him he should fight the good fight right to the top and if the bylaw isn’t overturned he should become a guerilla fiddle warrior and lead an army called Musicians for Social Change. They could set up road blocks and refuse to let anyone with a car newer than 1991 pass without riverdancing to Scotland the Brave played simultaneously on six sets of highland pipes. After an ordeal like that they will be delighted by the subtle wafting tone of a neighbour’s violin, flute or guitar providing auditory accompaniment while they read the evening news. Apologies, of course, to any highland pipers in our readership who like to play with large groups of other pipers. I SAID APOLOGIES! A - POL - O - GIES! IIIIIIII’MMMMM SSSOOOOORRRYYYYY! (They couldn’t hear me at first.)

I will be selling bumper stickers in support of Mitch’s cause that read "PLAY MORE! PLAY LOUDER!" All proceeds will be forwarded to the Metro Elash Legal Defense Fund to assist his soldiers in the aquisition of musical armaments to prepare for the battle that is soon to ensue.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I’m planning on writing a letter. Just a note to those who still want to write one-
generally, if you write a letter to a public office whith questions that you make clear you expect to
have answred, then the office is generally obligated to answer your questions. Also, generally
in cases like this, the person who causes a public outcry such as this one will be the
one who is assigned the task of answering the letters. Do you see where I’m going with
this? I’m planning on asking some questions. It’s likely that the person who wrote the
letter to Mr. Elash will learn an important lesson.

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I appreciate you letting us know how we could help Scotty. I sent mine along like the rest of these fine folks. The story is bizare. In my neighborhood, we would regard Mitch as a treasure. He can move next door anytime. That fiddle would be a thousand times better than my neighbors racing engine that rattles every window in my house.

Cheers

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I’ve sent my letter. That has to be about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Hang in there Mitch!

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Hey all, thanks for your support. I am not sure how anybody could help anymore than by sending an e-mail to Mayor Wade, unless you can get the story into your local paper or TV station.
I would love to see CNN pick up the story!!!

Tonight, I started a simple petition at the Hamilton Wentworth Old-Tyme Fiddler’s Association, and collected over 130 signatures. Everyone was confused by this. How could it happen? We all know and care about Mitch. He is a decent human being, and certainly didn’t deserve to be singled out by the city in this manner.

I will be forwarding all of your comments to Mitch and Agnes, which, hopefully, will offer some comfort to them. I am sure that Mitch is taking this with his usual good humour, but he can’t help feeling somewhat ‘stung’ by this.

Anyway, your support is appreciated, and if you haven’t already sent an e-mail to Mayor Wade, please do.

Thanks,
Scotty

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I’m telling you, this kind of thing can happen when a pro bodhran council is swept into office. Next they’ll be coming for the flutes!

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Well, okay then, Scotto: I just went to http://www.cnn.com/feedback/research.html and requested that they cover the story. We’ll see if anything develops from that.

Zina

P.S. Have you sent anything to the AP?

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Oh Yes, there is nothing like a bunch of militant fiddlers on a mission. Bless all your bows, especially Mr.Elash.

I love the support everyone has given from this great site, not just the fiddlers.

Deb

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

The Hamilton Spectator published my letter. I have a feeling that Mr. Elash’s fiddle will not be gathering too much dust.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I got the following from the Mayors office. Anybody else get one of these?

Wayne
———————————————————————————————————————————————


Mayor Wade has asked me to respond to your message and to thank you for
taking the time to write to him with your comments regarding Mr. Elash
and
the city noise by-law.

A courtesy letter was sent to Mr. Elash pursuant to the City of
Hamilton
Noise By-law No. 79-292 in response to a complaint received respecting
the
violin playing at 72 Mountain Park Avenue in Hamilton. This is in
accordance with the Department’s process to address noise complaints in
residential areas. Staff is obligated to addressing all complaints.
Once a
complaint is received by the Department a courtesy letter is issued
advising
the property owner of the nature of the complaint and that there is a
violation pursuant to the Noise By-law. In this case, the noise is
emanating from one residence to another and is clearly audible at the
point
of reception, which is the complainant’s residence.

To date the City has not received a call from Mr. Elash to address his
concerns regarding the content of the courtesy letter, however, had he
called he would have been advised that we must respond to each
complaint and
that it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that the noise
does
not emanate from the subject property. We do strive to achieve
voluntary
compliance. In most cases it requires closing windows, or relocating
to
another room in the house from which the noise is not clearly audible
at a
point of reception.

Again, thank you for your comments.

Sincerely,
Marjorie Walker
Office of the Mayor

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I got exactly the same thing via email.
Deb

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Yes, I just got one, too. How besieged they must feel. *grin* I wonder what the actual text of the Bylaw reads? I AM going to write Ms. Walker back to see if someone from the City actually went out to see if the music was really all that loud.

Interesting that I am seeing so many complaints about lawnmowers and radios and kids in the Spectator, yet no one ever apparently complains to the City about those, yet a fairly close neighbor DID in fact complain to the City about Mitch’s fiddle playing. Without ever going over to actually ask Mitch to shut the window or whatever. I wonder how tolerant the neighbor is going to be if the fiddle music is audible but not as clear? Would the City actually check to see if the noise is really all that loud before fining Mitch?

Scott, can Mitch play inside another room of the house rather than in the sunroom where apparently the music carries to this neighbor’s home? Is that an acceptable compromise?

Zina

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I got the same rubber stamp.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I was curious about the bylaw to. Hamilition has a website but the bylaws only go back to 89 - so couldn’t find the one for noise. Also, the response letter says " To Date the City has not received a call from Mr. Elash to address his concerns. " The letter that Scotty posted looks like they didn’t indicate a response was necessary or an option but strictly told him to see the disturbance does not occur again.
Deb

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Everyone should respond to the

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

WoWWW, you folks are way too cool!!! I can’t wait to show Mitch all of your comments.. (group hug)

Deb, I saw your letter in the Spectator. Someone brought it in and they read it at the fiddle club last night to much applause… my goodness, it is a small world. BTW, I started a little petition and collected 136 signatures last night. (Did I already mention that?)

I got the same form letter as well.

Zina, you have moxy…. Gawd, I admire you so much. Going to CNN…

It appears, to me, that Hamilton’s noise bylaw does not allow any noise to emanate from one home (or perhaps property) into another home (or property). If this is the case, then there is only one thing to do, to highlight the foolishness of the people who drafted the bylaw, and that is to complain about the noise emanating from every city alder-persons house. Everytime one of them fires up the electric blender, call a bylaw officer…..
"I was driving down the road, officer, just minding my own business, with the stereo cranked to 95, when this little whirring sound came from THAT house over there….it wouldn’t be so bad, but the band is tuned to A440, and that electric contraption is a tad sharp of B-flat…. boo hoo hoo, sniff sniff…it drove the sound pollution index right off the meter….better make an appointment with my audiologist to check for permanent hearing damage…."


According to the Spectator article, the letter stated, "Please see that this disturbance does not occur again in order to avoid action being taken pursuant to the bylaw." While the reply from Ms. Walker says this letter is merely a notification, I think that she is understating the severity of the notice given to Mitch.

The timing of this whole thing couldn’t be better, from my point of view, because I have a few events coming up, where I will have the opportunity to discuss this with city aldermen and follow it up.

One interesting thing… In spite of this action by the City, there is a common feeling up here in Canada, that it is our inalienable right to fiddle and to have fiddle music. That attitude goes far beyond the fiddling community. The Spectator was playing to that attitude, when it decided to run the article on Mitch.

(beware, rant starts here)
In 1967, the CBC (our national TV network) decided to remove Don Messer’s Jubilee, a fiddling program, from the air, following a 28 year run on radio and TV. The public outcry was huge, nationwide, petitions,… the issue was so big that it was discussed in our Parliament. Here, every generation has its own unofficial ‘national fiddler’. For my parents, it was Don Messer, for my generation, it is Natalie MacMaster, and for the younger ones, it is Ashley MacIsaac… Canada is sometimes thought of as a nation of hockey players,…we have more fiddlers than hockey players!

In past centuries, they tried to ban Irish dance in Ireland, the pipes in Scotland…. a lot of good it did. The oppressed just emigrated to here!!! The good folks at city hall seem to have a short memory. Who do they think we are? (interesting twist on an old question, eh). We are descended from a bunch of militant pipers and dancers, who wouldn’t live by the rules over there, so we came here and hacked this country out of the forests and mountains and plains.Do they think that we’ll stop fiddling because they say so? When hell freezes over!!!, (or when the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup, which is the same thing *grin* (borrowed that line from Carl Conn. Thanks, Carl)). (end of rant)

Well, thanks again to one and all for everything. Keep up the pressure. It will take a sustained effort to gain satisfaction. The bigger the effort, the bigger the satisfaction. I haven’t identified any goals, as yet, except to ‘make a lot of noise’, and try to make sure that Mitch isn’t alone in this.

Thanks,
Scott

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Well, the interesting thing about this whole situation is that as of yet, no one has actually seen the text of the by-law. The way the by-law is written will tell us exactly what is up in this situation; and until we know exactly what the thing says, it’s going to be hard to fight it.

I requested that Ms. Walker send me this text, as it’s hard to believe that someone actually drafted a noise pollution law wherein a decibel level is not specified and/or "noise" is not defined; insofar as we can tell at this point, it is up to the complainant to determine what the definition of "noise" is, which seems to me to be a good way to ensure harassment between citizens and frivolous legal action involving the city.

It may simply be time for the law to be re-written. The by-law may have been written when Hamilton was smaller, or when lots were bigger, or whatever.

In the meantime, Mitch and Agnes are probably eyeing their neighbors within earshot, wondering which one it was that complained instead of civilly coming over to ask if Mitch might close a window or something. A shame for the neighborhood, really.

Zina

Re: Fiddling banned … great expectations for a law suit grotesque

got the same email. the most silly sentence was: "…however, had he called he would have been advised that we must respond to each complaint and that it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that the noise does not emanate from the subject property."

….. "damn", my wife said this morning, "kill all these noisy birds; they are unlawful emanating noise from our property" …..

what is the definition of noise? there must be a mesurable figure in dB. A sound engineer could check that out and compare fiddling to other sound (or "noise") sources …. measurements like this have shown for example, that people believe a motorcycle with 30 mph is louder than a car at the same speed while the "noise-o-meter" tells another story ….. what great expectations for a law suit grotesque….. but first Mitch should call the City Hall and tell us about the results of this call … ;o)

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

it’s odd that in the land of the free that this this should be going on so soon after Afaganistan has been liberated from those who banned music !!!

Dave (England)

Posted by .

just an interesting tidbit of information for anyone who cares, the specator was crammed with editorials from people… one from switzerland and one from Zina… and a whole bunch from hamiltonies. Again, just in case you care.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

How do they mow the lawn with such a bylaw? Or does the snow never melt in Hamilton? The funniest thing is that they call it a "courtesy letter." That kind of thing seems to be the same all over the world. Sigh.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I keep wondering if this is not a traditional neighbor dispute, which should be resolved the time-honoured way: stink bombs! :-)

It’s great to see everybody all fired-up. Somebody hit the nail on the head: the issue is what’s the definition of noise. We usually don’t think of fiddling as noise (except, maybe, Country&Western fiddling), and it’s doubtful that that guy could generate enough dbs in his fiddle to compete with a $50 boombox.

But Jeez, the guy’s 80 years old. He should be able to play his fiddle whenever and wherever he pleases.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

"Did we stop when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor???"
(- quote from Bluto from Animal House)

I think Mitch should get a pick up for his fiddle and turn the amplifyer up to 10 with a lot of distortion … if those "complaintants" want to see what REAL noise is as opposed to beautiful accoustic fiddle music! Down with the BureauRATS!

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Hey Fiddler on Vermouth,
I’ll buy one of your bumper stickers. Where do I send my donation.
-Rachel

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

If they want to see what REAL noise is, they should fly me up there so i could play the fiddle for them.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Aloha all,
First, I want to commiserate with Mitch. I just joined up and hate to start my association here by playing "devil’s advocate", but as a guy (and a fiddler) who hates "noise" I want to try to offer some balance here. I imagine the complainer against Mitch tried for awhile to ignore Mitch’s playing while he/she was trying to watch TV, (or listen to his/her own music, or meditate, or whatever). But Mitch’s day-after-day music-therapy session finally got to him/her, (by the way, isn’t it time we got a single pronoun for he/she, him/her?).
As someone who would like to bash in the windshield of those jerks who pound Rap-crap from their cars (especially as gas stations), I have to empathize with the complainer. When I practice my fiddle I drive in my van out to some lonely spot so that all the cats in the neighborhood don’t start howling along. I know that Ontario is a little colder than my California, so that probably wouldn’t work for Mitch, so maybe we can come up with a better solution suggestion; a win-win solution for both Mitch and his neighbors, (maybe Mitch could offer to teach them the fiddle, or all of us who are concerned could make a donation to Mitch to build himself a little sound-room/enclosure in his house?). Let’s not start a war over this; this is a great opportunity for us musicians to show that we care about those around us.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I think that sounds extremely reasonable. I commiserate with Mitch too, and I think Scott’s initial indignation perfectly understandable. My initial reaction, like most, was an email to the Mayor.

However Capnmike seems to be introducing a new perspective on the issue here that seems to take us some way forward. Could there be a win-win option here ?

Posted by .

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Thanks, Jeremy! Very interesting. I note that Hamilton City Council has also passed bylaws against playing street hockey (charges were filed against a father of two street hockey players, and then dropped in January), and feeding birds in your backyard (no, really, the city council approved that bylaw in May). Perhaps the trouble is the City Council, not the Mayor’s office. And of course the neighbors who complain to authorities without trying other things first, like actually talking to each other. The Spectator’s editor’s idea of a city mediator is a very good one, I thought.

Noise is noise — there’s a certain amount of noise that’s not really all that bothersome, and a certain amount that is, and it’s different for every person and situation. When I was working nights, noise at 8 am was a lot more important (and annoying) than it is now that I work days again. And of course I’m aware that some people hate fiddle music of any sort, no matter how good (or bad), and so it qualifies as noise in their ears.

So I think it would be a good thing for Mitch to compromise a little by taking it deeper into his house if need be.

But let me repeat this: no one that I know of has as of yet seen the text of the actual bylaw. I have asked the Mayor’s Office for it, but have yet to receive a response. Trying to fight or change or side with any kind of law is difficult until you know exactly what it says. It is going to be much easier to get this law changed or amended and/or have the complaint against Mitch removed if we can make fun of it properly.

Here in the States, there’s a fine history of proving a law unconstitutional and getting it changed or tossed, it’s almost a national past-time. I imagine there’s something similar provided for in Canada. :)

Zina

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Jeremy, thanks for finding and posting those links. I didn’t even know that it was possible to do that. Everywhere I went, and everyone that I spoke with was filled with incredulity. The story is so warped as to be unbelievable, yet it really did happen. Hopefully these links will allow people to see for themselves what actually did happen.

Zina, I have also requested the text of the bylaw, and also the date and location of the next council meeting. I suspect that the city is going to ignore my request, in which case I will request it under The Freedom of Information Act, which will force them to provide it. (If it is necessary to make a request under the FIA, it will be another black eye for the politcos.) It is simply ridiculous that this kind of thing is going on in the 21st century!

There seems to be a little momentum gathering, as many people now recognize that they are at the mercy of their neighbours every day. One of the problems with bylaws is that they usually have small penalties, and hence are not worth fighting, even if they are poorly written. Councils tend to drop charges to avoid a court challenge. However, I suspect that we can find a local laywer who would just love to make a name for him/herself.

Personally, I need to persue this issue with city hall because it is causing me a lot of anxiety. I now recognize that any of my neighbours could ‘shut me down’ , pronto. Fiddling is just a huge part of my life. When I am not out fiddling, I am sitting here at the keyboard writing and reading about fiddling. This bylaw threatens that. Further, fiddling has been a tradition in my family for several generations, and it feels to me, that fiddling is my birthright. I was born to fiddle. It is my calling in life. It was predetermined. It is God’s plan for me, and I must answer that calling, to serve God and my community with my fiddle. This application of the bylaw attacks that. I do feel threatened, and without security, without protection, vulnerable.

Phewww, that was pretty personal…. I’ve never said that to anyone, not even my wife.

Anyways, keep up the great effort, e-mails to the mayor are still being CC’ed to me in a steady flow, so I know that the issue is not dying. The Spectator has not dropped the story, and there are a few irons in the fire which may develop into something yet.

Thanks to all,
Scotty

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

I requested the bylaw text from the city and they sent it to me. I haven’t read it yet. If you want me to forward it to you let me know. It’s 92 pages. My email address is deblittle@earthlink.net.
Deb

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Just when I think the US has a lock on bizarre, power-mongering politicians….

I hate to bring this up (because I disagree on principle with the following tactic), but here goes (tongue firmly planted in cheek):

Here in the States, we have a law that says the government can’t "take" your property without fair compensation. Some people have started using this to force governments to cough up money when environmental laws or land-use regulations prevent landowners from developing or otherwise freely using their private property.

If there are similar precedents in Canada, perhaps Mitch could sue the City Council for "taking" his right to use his own house for his own enjoyment of music. I know that my daily dose of fiddling is priceless to me, no matter how annoying it might be to the neighbors. Ought to be worth a few thousand bucks a day….

Seriously, what a shame that the neighbor felt compelled to complain to the city rather than simply talk to Mitch. Perhaps Scotty could canvas the neighbors on Mitch’s behalf and help resolve the problem face to face. I’d be less interested in the text of the law and more curious about who complained and exactly why. In short, define the actual problem in the complainant’s terms, and take into account Mitch’s interest (and right) in playing fiddle in his own house to find a solution that works for everyone. It may be a simple matter of time of day—conflicting with a favorite soap opera (shudder), say.

If, on the other hand, the neighbor just hates fiddle music, Mitch could offer to host a week-long potluck for the local fiddlers club (136 fiddles!!!) and invite the city council….

Posted .

Re: Similar problems in England

We are having similar fun in the UK at the moment. If two or more play in a bar (even in an impromptu session), the bar must have an entertainment licence.
I noticed that during recent football matches, many bars were packed with drunken low-life making noises in unison. This was not considered singing nor music so no licence was required.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Just curious what the end result of our letters, etc turned out to be. Causes like this are funny, everyone starts out with enough gusto, but the energy quickly peters out - oftentimes before the goal is reached.

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Thanks for asking, Brad. Things haven’t petered out.

We held a small ‘gathering’ on the steps of City Hall on Canada, (July 1), and played fiddle tunes for a few hours. There were a few dozen of us, fiddlers and listeners, and we had a great time. I printed all of your messages, and put them in a booklet for Mitch and Agnes. They were extremely appreciative, and were deeply touched by everyones concern. Mitch hasn’t stopped fiddling at home, however, his general health prevented him from coming to City hall.

One of Mitch’s neighbours called to thank everyone for their support of Mitch, as she had seen your messages. She told me that just a few years ago, when Mitch’s health was better, he would clear the sidewalks in his neighbourhood of snow, with his snowblower (for those from warmer climates, a snowblower is a gas powered machine about the size of a lawn tractor the clears the snow. We have civic bylaws requiring citizens to clear the snow from the public sidewalks in front their houses, which can be a rather arduous and strenuous task.) In general, Mitch is very much appreciated in his neighbourhood. Seems strange that his neighbour didn’t complain about the noise of his snowblower!!!

A petition has been started, and signatures are being collected, and will be presented to City Council.

Our ‘gathering’ at City Hall was so much fun, that many suggested that we do it again, so we probably will, each year on Canada Day. With a little advance planning, we might be able to get 100 or more out for next years "Mitch Elash TRASH THE BYLAW Bash.

Anyways, I will post updates, from time to time, on this thread.
Thanks to all for your support. Some things are going to change here in Hamilton, perhaps small changes, gradual changes, but these changes will make it increasingly more difficult for insensitive clods to inhibit the right of inndividuals to express their heritage.

Thanks,
Scotty

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

So? What’s happened? Did the Canadian CIA take Mitch "out"? When will we see the movie version? Will Tom Cruise play Mitch? Did anything come of my "win-win" suggestion, or did a neighborhood feud ensue? Just curious..Best of life to ya, Mitch!

Re: Fiddling banned at home in Hamilton, Ontario, by city bureauRATS!!!

Good. The whole concept of noise polution is a very serious one. People, please think about this. Just because it is a fiddle, does not mean that it is no less an annoyance than a chainsaw, loud hi fi music - anything. People are gifted at missing the point. The point is that it, his fiddling is an annoyance that is degrading the quality of life of those around him PERIOD. Don’t miss the point. Period.