RESIDENTS of Rodney Bay and its environs are concerned over the issue of noise, particularly at nights, which they say is seriously affecting the peace and tranquility of their domestic life.
While Rodney Bay has grown into a centre of Tourist entertainment, a group of concerned residents feel strongly that their rights are being infringed due to the loud music blaring from the sound systems at the night clubs and other establishments in the vicinity of their homes on a nightly basis.
The group states that residents have accommodated the advent of bars and restaurants “because we believe holistically, it’s a good thing, adding charm and an opportunity for nighttime entertainment for residents and tourists alike to sample the cuisine and night life our island has to offer,” a group member stated. However the member noted that the residents had enough of the noisy situation claiming that ‘enough is enough’. and something needs to be done to rectify the situation.
The group has released a statement which called on residents and business owners to find a way to peacefully coexist, adding that for this to happen there must be mutual respect.
“Business owners should be able to make a profit, while allowing the residents to enjoy their homes in peace and tranquility,” the group adds.
A representative of the group told THE VOICE that over the years, residents have held discussions with bar owners and the police in an effort to reach an amicable agreement.
The group recalls that from 2019 to 2022 there has been discussions on the matter, and more recently, this year, they met with the Parliamentary Representative for the area at which residents of Reduit, Rodney Bay and Cap Estate attended.
“At our July 2023 meeting, suggestions were made through the police officers present that the Police Commissioner (should) amend the permits to play loud music by inserting Decibel limits, which if he/she did, would assist the police, because loud music, without defining a decibel ceiling is subjective,” notes the complainants.
“Such action would not be without precedence as enshrined within our Public Health Act which regulates noise pollution. Are noise limits specified in decibels to be observed during both the night and day,” the group asked.
“We have also committed to supply at least two decibel meters to the police,” the group representative said.
According to the residential group, a copy of a letter outlining the issues has been given to several individuals, including their Parliamentary Representative, top ranked law enforcement officers. Also distributed, was a copy of a report commissioned by the Government of Saint Lucia, and compiled by The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The report dated November 2003 and entitled “Planning Standards for the Rodney Bay area” is a comprehensive report, which deals with, among other matters, noise pollution. Proposals were drawn up on how to have bars, restaurants and entertainment outfits co-exist, recognizing that the area is a multi-purpose community.
The group adds: “In August, we, the residents of Reduit/Rodney Bay and environs, wrote to our Parliamentary Representative and the Commissioner of Police attaching our petition signed by over 300 households.
“To date, not even an acknowledgement has been received. While we do not know who the author of the recently circulated open letter to the Government of Saint Lucia is, we would have preferred that the person had taken credit as ‘A resident of Rodney Bay’ rather than ‘The residents of Rodney Bay’, because we view the issue of noise as non-political,” the group said.
Though that particular letter has been an issue addressed by Tourism and Creative Industries Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire, the group contends it is rather “unfortunate” that the minister chose to address the issue via a video response.
“It is even more curious that the letter should prompt a press release from the Saint Lucia Labour party, yet our collective attempts to have our voices heard on this issue of noise over the years, have been met with total silence and a complete ignoring of the issue,” the statement from the group adds.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Anthony Bergasse, this week told THE VOICE there are persons who have been living in the area for the past 40 to 50 years.
He explained that the UN/ECLAC Report had “been commissioned by the government of the day” about 20 years ago, in 2003, but no substantive measures have yet been implemented from the recommendations made in the report.
Bergasse notes that the report on the “Planning Standards for the Rodney Bay area” focuses mainly on “noise and how noise should be handled …and to make sure there is a peaceful and harmonious coexistence between residents and the commercial sector”.
He said the report makes “specific recommendations” in regards to decibels and also recommends that if the establishments want “to play music at those kinds of volumes, the establishment should be enclosed, not closed, but enclosed.”
He added that conscious-wise, it all comes down to “being a good neighbourly person” since logically “we can’t go off and do what we want, where we want and when we want.”
Bergasse stressed that in most major cities, where night-life is concerned – the issue of Noise Regulation is dealt with. “And if you walk past a night club or discotheque or something like that, you do not hear noise that would disturb you,” he said.
Analysing the situation, he reiterated: “The residents of Rodney Bay are not against, and do not want to see anybody close down or lose their livelihood. That is not the intention, and we are not against them contrary to the false narrative that is being pushed in other circles …however, just as the bars and restaurants and night club owners have a right to run their business and make a profit, we also have a right to enjoy our home in peace and quiet.”
Furthermore, states Bergasse, the issue of uncontrolled loud music in public is a general concern to residents from other parts of the country, as well. And notably, he said, it is a Public Health issue that can have adverse effects on an individual.
Another resident from the Old Reduit area, spoke about the number of families in that location who have resided there for about 30 to 50 years or more. The families include the St Rose, Giraudy, Raveneau, Mayers, and others.
The area also accommodates the French Ambassador’s residence and other diplomatic residencies, as well as privately-run rented condominiums.
The resident added: “We all live in this thing together …and we understand that the place has become ‘touristic’ and all of that, but all of us cannot move out of our houses to allow you …”.
In summing up the matter, the resident declared: “We have asked the police to establish a decibel level, at which all the bars can play …and we are asking the government to pass legislation to enforce this thing (Noise Regulation).”