THE B.C. CATHOLIC | NATHAN RUMOHR
Our Lady of the Assumption parishioners leave after Mass as the church's bells ring.
PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. – Peace could be on the horizon, after a lengthy and heated battle between some folks in a Port Coquitlam neighbourhood and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish over the use of the parish's bell tower.
"The matter has been reviewed by the city's community safety committee," said Pardeep Purewal, the communications manager for the city of Port Coquitlam.
Purewal said the committee directed the church to make adjustments to the volume and the schedule of bell-ringing. "The neighbours (will) monitor compliance over the summer."
During a July 11 meeting at city hall, the city heard from two delegations representing both sides of the bells issue.
The committee asked the parish to agree to lower the volume of the bells (which had already been done before the meeting) and to follow the schedule of bell-ringing it had proposed in 2009.
The church has since amended its schedule and will ring bells daily at noon and 6 p.m. for the Angelus and before Masses on Saturday and Sunday. The bells can also be rung after weddings and funerals, and on special occasions.
"The situation will be reviewed at the community safety committee's Sept. 12 meeting," Purewal said. "If necessary, an amendment to the Noise Control Bylaw will be considered at that time."
The parish and a few neighbours have been at odds over the bells for months.
Wendy McHaffie, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption, has the led the charge. She initially complained on behalf of her neighbours that the bells were too loud and unbearable.
"I didn't think we needed to go this far," she told The B.C. Catholic.
On July 16, McHaffie measured the bells' volume at 71.8 decibels (the church agreed to lower the volume from 80 decibels to 70). She said even that is too loud.
"We have done everything the city has asked," noted Paul Dufault, a parish building-committee member.
As the parish representative on this issue Dufault added, "It doesn't matter if we had only one bell ringing once a week, they still wouldn't be happy."
So far McHaffie and the neighbourhood are content with the compromise over the current bell schedule. However McHaffie says she is only cautiously optimistic the parish will abide by it.