Toronto Deserves a Better Noise Bylaw, Coalition Says

Resident groups say the changes the city is currently proposing for noise bylaw do not measure up to the standards of other major urban centres and fall far short of what a world-class city like Toronto deserves.

Coalition proposes 7 Point Plan based on successful New York City model.

TORONTO, May 13, 2016 /CNW/ - The Toronto Noise Coalition (the 'Coalition') finds that the proposed changes to Toronto's noise bylaws are without many of the key details that will allow Toronto to better manage noise. Noise is a pressing problem and the City's proposed changes will not solve it. Specifically, the City's proposed changes are:

  • Without teeth – with no increased funding for increased and more-timely enforcement, and, there is no onus on mitigation of noise at the source.
  • Without vision – There is no clear statement of a general provision that the central purpose of the by-law is to protect the health and well-being of the citizens.
  • Without sufficient public input – while over 90% of Torontonians are concerned about noise, only 8% are aware that the City is considering bylaw changes, and,
  • With too many opportunities for exceptions – the whole by-law is undercut by the availability of exemptions and a stream-lined process for a blanket application for multiple exemptions.

Noise is a pressing issue for citizens across the city. The coalition has conducted its own survey (available at www.torontonoisecoalition.ca). It proves that the overwhelming majority of Torontonians are concerned about noise. Yet, only a very small percentage even know that the city is about to make significant changes to the noise by-law. The changes are going forward without most people knowing what they are.

"Our member resident associations are telling us that there is bound to be a backlash," said Coalition spokesperson, Ian Carmichael. "The general public will soon realize the proposed changes will give them less rather than more protection against intrusive noise and nowhere near the protection that residents of other cities have."

The Coalition proposes that Toronto follow the New York City's approach, which it has summarized as a 7-Point Plan for Effective Noise Management. The key points are: Declaration of Policy; a General Provision for 24/7 protection from vibrations and sound; and specific recommendations for Amplified Sound, Construction, Mechanical Equipment, Exceptions, and Enforcement.

"New York City gets it right," Carmichael said. "They brought in recognized noise experts and ensured the bylaw process was not primarily an economic development exercise, as it is here in Toronto."

One of the primary authors of New York City's noise bylaw is Charles Shamoon, Assistant Counsel, New York City Department of Environmental Protection.  He said, "In New York City, we developed an effective noise bylaw that takes into account science, the concerns of residents, public health needs and city planning as a whole. We brought in all of the various stakeholders and we worked together to create a consensus around noise in NYC. And it works well."

The Toronto Noise Coalition is made up of dozens of local residents' associations and many independent stakeholders in the noise management debate.

Carmichael said, "The City of Toronto is trying to ram through this bylaw without considering the needs of all stakeholders, including the City's own internal barriers to enforcement. It's not just about funding. For example, while the bylaw covers motorcycle noise, only a police officer has the power the pull over a motor vehicle and issue a ticket." 

Carmichael said, "We offer our 7 Point Plan for Effective Noise Management as an alternative solution to the City's proposed changes." 

An overview of the Coalition's 7-Point Plan is below with full details available at www.torontonoisecoalition.ca.

DECLARATION OF POLICY: Clearly communicate the Purpose of the Noise Bylaw is to protect the health and quality of life of the residents of Toronto.

GENERAL PROVISION: Include a General Provision for 24/7 protection from vibrations and sound of such a volume or nature that it is likely to disturb the City's inhabitants.

AMPLIFIED SOUND:  Replace and improve the specific bylaw prohibition 591-2.1 problematic noise sources to be projected beyond a property line onto streets or public places particularly City parks.

CONSTRUCTION:  A comprehensive standards that will limit the negative effects of constant construction.  It must also encourage companies to adopt innovative technology and noise mitigating measures, such as a Noise Mitigation Plan - Contractors must develop a noise mitigation plan prior to the start of work. Every construction site must have a noise mitigation plan on location. If noise complaints are received, an inspector will ensure the contractor has posted the plan and that it is being followed, and Construction Scheduling - Prohibit construction of new homes and other major construction in residential areas on weekends and statutory holidays from May 1st to October 31st. Owner occupied work would still be permitted to perform needed work on their own homes as needed.

MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT: Toronto's Noise bylaw must contain a section regulating disruptive noise from HVAC equipment (resident, commercial, and industrial) by imposing reasonable standards for this equipment.

EXCEPTIONS: Exceptions must be considered a privilege not a right. Series approvals (approvals of more than one event at a time) should only be offered to applicants with a record of good compliance and an upper limit of the number of series approved by one application should be required- i.e. no more than three at a time. Noise Mitigation Plans must be a requirement for all exceptions applications to the policy. Limits to the number of permit approved in any park each year must be set. Events in residential neighbourhood parks must end no later than 10 pm.

ENFORCEMENT: Council must commit to increase investment for effective and timely enforcement

SOURCE Toronto Noise Coalition

For further information: Natalie Dash, Campbell Strategies, ndash@campbellstrategies.com, 416.368.7353 ext 106

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Toronto Noise Coalition

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