Residents tired of blaring noise, want city crackdown on violators

Dennis Hanagan –

More than two dozen people lined up at City Hall in January to tell councillors more has to be done to restrict excessive loud noise. They said noise is making people sick and causes anxiety and depression for many.

From August 23 to October 15 city staff received more than 2,200 emails expressing similar concerns. The Economic and Community Development Com­mittee heard complaints about a range of noises – from leaf blowers to roaring car mufflers to late-night banging of garbage trucks emptying dumpsters.

Members met for four hours to review a newly revamped noise bylaw from municipal licensing and standards staff. It suggests first educating the public about curbing excessive noise, fol­lowed by enforcement for those who don’t comply.

Some complainers said that when they complain to the city’s municipal services phone num­ber, 311, they’re told to call po­lice – and when they call police they’re told to call 311.

“This is one of the things that really gets under the skin of so many residents. We have to try to fix that,” said Ward 14 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Paula Fletcher.

Steve Georgiev, representing the hospitality industry, said it’s wrong to only blame businesses for noise problems.

“We’re getting penalized on the hospitality side because the majority of the problems are coming from resident to resi­dent. Even the (Toronto) Noise Coalition has said night clubs were one per cent of the noise problems,” said Georgiev.

Along with the complaints came ideas to tone down noise. Ingrid Buday, founder of No More Noise Toronto, suggested setting up “noise cameras” as has been done in several U.S. cities, in Paris and in Australia.

Ingrid Buday, founder of No More Noise Toronto, addresses Council. Photo: CoT

A man living in a highrise said sirens on emergency ve­hicles should be targeted at ground levels. “If you’re on the 30th floor, do you need to hear a wailing siren going off in your head?”

Toronto residents are split about noise. In a city survey, 51% said current noise levels are reasonable while 49% want more restrictions. The top three wards making noise complaints include Ward 13 Toronto Cen­tre.

One woman said noise con­trol is a universal responsibility. “The soundscape in Toronto is a shared space. No one com­mercial activity or business or individual should be allowed to dominate it.”

Max Moore, a soundman, said in a letter that noise is being in­adequately measured.

“dBA Decibels only measure treble noise, and do not meas­ure bass noise. If the city con­tinues using DBA Decibels … noise-making industries will continue dominating the city’s noise policies, and people will continue complaining.”

Among the many motions approved by the committee is a directive that licensing staff conduct public education about the revamped noise bylaw. The executive director is to report back to committee on February 20 about options to reduce ac­ceptable decibel levels for mo­torcycles and cars.