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B.C. court sides with teen pianist in noise complaint

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed the complaint of a retired Vancouver couple who claim their neighbour’s teenaged son plays the piano loud enough to be a harmful nuisance that requires strata fines.

Justice David Masuhara said Andrew and Shirley Wolodko were the only ones in the Highbury Street complex to complain, they didn’t provide a recording of the sounds, and the pair wouldn’t let strata council into their suite to hear what the fuss was about.

“The plaintiffs say that the piano noise ‘reverberates’ throughout their unit and its continuation over time has led to feelings of anxiety and has been a source of tension and stress,” Masuhara said in his decision.

In response to the complaint, initially made through strata, Michael Zhang — whose teenage son is a practising pianist — attempted to resolve the issue by putting a carpet under the piano to reduce sound, using a blanket as a noise damper, employing a “piano silence pedal” and minimized repetitive practice.

The practice sessions occurred about five times a month and lasted between a few minutes to an hour.

It wasn’t enough, however, as Wolodko said Zhang’s son should be playing piano somewhere else.

At one point earlier this year, an “acoustical engineer” was even employed to try sound-insulating cups under the piano legs.

“In my view, the evidence is not sufficient to find that a reasonable person would conclude that the described incidents of piano playing constitute a nuisance,” Masuhara concluded.





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