Call for policy to address loud music at Christchurch City Council events

Photo: File
Photo: File
Paul McMahon’s ears were still ringing for days following two popular Christchurch community events.

The music was so loud at the Woolston Gala and Waltham Summer Pool’s final day celebrations that his nine-year-old son with autism could not stand to be there.

The Woolston resident has attended the gala each year since 2010 and claims the music has never been as loud.

He is now calling for Christchurch City Council to adopt an “evidence-based, health-led policy” on music at events to protect hearing and promote community connection.

Said McMahon, in a letter to the Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board: "I think if I had made a noise control complaint, they would’ve been told to turn it down as I could hear it at my house, [which is] 400m away across the river - it was at least a third too loud.

"My chief concern is for the children - we know a lot about the dangers of loud music that we didn’t know growing up and I don’t think it is acceptable for council events to subject children to it."

McMahon said his nine-year-old son generally loves Woolston Park, but he could not handle being there for a few minutes.

"While he is autistic and very sensitive to loud noise, he also likes music and I would’ve usually expected him to want to stay at the park for at least a little while,” he said.

"But he was blocking his ears on account of the music being so loud. For many people, having music that loud is disabling.”

He was also concerned the loud music “impinges” on conversations and connections people made at such events, describing it as more like “being in a bar” than being at a picnic.

Alexandra Davids.
Alexandra Davids.
Community board chairwoman Alexandra Davids attended both events and said, although the music was loud, it wasn’t “too” loud.

She said Woolston Park has a bigger area to cover sound-wise.

"Personally, I don’t think it was too loud for myself, but there are people in the community where it affects [them] more than others,” she said.

"It’s really good to start those conversations because, if we don’t know, then we can’t do anything about it.

"We can monitor it, and it’s an opportunity to see if we’re missing something policy-wise."

City council head of regulatory compliance Tracey Weston said the council’s noise control service did not receive any complaints about the events.

"People are able to make complaints about noise from council events in the same manner that they would complain about other noise, as the same rules apply to all situations,” she said.

"There is no specific policy for council events."

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