A note on bagpipes and bongo drums

April 10, 2012 | Safer Communities

Recent media reports have focused on a City of Vancouver restriction on street entertainment permits for bagpipes and other percussive instruments such as drums and bongos.

When the Mayor was made aware of the staff regulation change that recently implemented the restriction, he immediately asked senior staff to review the matter.

When first asked by media last week, the Mayor responded with the following statement to inquiring members of the press:

"Buskers play a very important role in making Vancouver's streets lively and dynamic, particularly in our vibrant downtown. We do however have to monitor noise complaints and ensure that music from our streets isn't excessively disruptive to neighbouring residences or workplaces. I've asked city staff to review this issue; Council won't support an outright ban on specific instruments. My first reaction is that a complete ban on bagpipes and percussion instruments across the city is ridiculous and culturally insensitive. The clans won't stand for it!"

Clearly the Mayor meant for the last phrase to be a bit more tongue-in-cheek, but as he indicates, he certainly takes the issue very seriously.

The restriction on bagpipes has now been lifted.

Staff will continue to gather noise level readings, monitor complaints and work with musicians and performers to see how these instruments can be permitted in a way that is acceptable to the public.

As the Mayor has made clear though, Council will not support an outright ban on specific instruments, and certainly not bagpipes.