The ban was so quiet that even the Mayor didn’t know about it until he was questioned by reporters. An award winning piper was informed about it when he tried to apply for his busking license and was denied.
Apparently, the city engineering department had received noise complaints from some particularly non-musical residents and decided the only solution was an outright ban. I’m not saying that there are not two sides to every story, but there is a time when you have to ignore noisy residents and business owners and let common sense prevail. The story is more about bagpipes, however, all percussion instruments were included in the ban, so its hard to figure what kind of reaction city staff were expecting.
As a current Scottish resident and former Vancouver resident, I’ve become a fan of the bagpipes. Its not everyone’s taste, but Vancouver staff could have easily avoided the controversy all together by resolving those complaints with measures short of a ban or just telling those people making the complaints to go culture themselves a little bit. I tolerate all the awful top40 that some of these people like, so they can probably learn to tolerate a few drums and bagpipes for the sake of having a city that is culturally vibrant and musically diverse.
The most newsworthy thing about this incident is how long it took for staff to realize what anyone with common sense could have told them. From the very beginning of the ban, this was only going to go one way. Mayor Gregor Robertson asked staff to examine the ordinance after reporters asked him about it (he couldn’t outright contradict them in public), then it was overturned a few days later with vocal support from other Canadians of scottish descent.
Its good to know that there are still some people who are determined to make Vancouver look like a no fun city.