Elmira’s Michael Zenker, a hockey dad, didn’t care too much for the new Woolwich noise policy for recreation facilities across the township.
“The bylaw’s intent is suppose to be about respect but they went way overboard and made it rules, rules, rules,” said Zenker, who decided he would have some bells made up for the parents of his son’s Peewee LL1 Woolwich hockey team to ring during games to encourage healthy cheering and celebration.
At a November 5 Woolwich council meeting officials opted to scale back a list of prohibitions in the noise policy they deemed too heavy-handed. Director of recreation and facilities Karen Makela was asked to bring back a revised policy for council to consider.
Zenker had 16 metal bells made and painted in Woolwich hockey colours. He showed the bells to Mayor Todd Cowan to make sure he would not be kicked out of the arena for using them.
“The mayor told me that they were going to change the policy back to the intent of what it is suppose to be – safety and respect,” said Zenker. “He got a label made up with the Woolwich logo on it and signed each one of the bells.”
The bell ringing parents have said they will impose a five-second rule when making noise as not to disturb or hurt anyone else in the arena.
“The bells will be tastefully rung – like crazy for five seconds,” laughs Zenker.
The first game with the bells was last weekend at the St. Jacobs arena and the parents then brought them to the Dan Snyder Arena the following day.
The new noise policy came into effect because of an incident that occurred last year at an Elmira Sugar Kings game when a fan from out of town came with a vuvuzela horn and the township received complaints about the noise he was making.
“We at the township really had no regulation or direction to do anything legally. That was a problem since we didn’t have anything legally there, so we decided to put something in place if it ever gets to the point that we really have to do something, we now have some legislation behind us,” said Cowan.
The original intent of the noise policy was not to suppress cheering or making noise at games, it to was to control unruly cheering using compressed air horns or loud noise-makers.
“It’s not a library over there and I have told a few people that the intent was not to turn it into a library: the intent was we are going to have fun and we are going to make as much noise as we want as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else’s ears or tick someone off,” said Cowan. “If there was no cheering or making noise at the Woolwich arena, I would be the first one to be kicked out from a Kings game.”
The new legislation will be kinder and gentler but it will still exclude compressed air horns and excessive noise in arenas.
Last week Zenker gave the mayor a bell of his own to ring at games.
“The bells have been approved by the township and they did a great job with it. We just want a healthy atmosphere for people (at arenas) it has nothing to do with making noise because that is what you do in an arena, its when some go overboard we just needed something in place so we can do something about it,” said Cowan.