by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

To allow Canadians to identify less noisy cities, the Canadian real estate marketplace company Zolo examined noise regulations and bylaws centered on vehicle sounds for several populous cities in Canada. The cities chosen: Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and recently updated its noise bylaws. With respect to motor vehicles, the bylaws focus on “unnecessary motor sound, horns, revving engine, squealing of tires, banging and clanking.” However, people familiar with noise bylaws know that “unnecessary” is a word that is frequently difficult to define when it comes to enforcement. Calgary does identify a decibel level, namely 96 dB, as the level a moving vehicle cannot exceed. In addition, Calgary bylaws stipulate that diesel engine buses are not to idle for more than three minutes. Calgary appears to be more specific in designating offensive noises.

Edmonton had set up procedures for police to catch the loudest motorists on the roads by having them employ microphones to listen for aftermarket exhausts that exceed 85 dB and the pandemic has seen “an increase in noisy car complaints.” Winnipeg does not provide guidance for volume levels for drivers but does have bylaws that restrict motor vehicle, motorboat and recreational vehicles from being repaired “within 150 metres of residential property between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays.”
While Vancouver has set limits on leaf blowers, Zolo did not find vehicle noise bylaws. But the Motor Vehicle Act in Vancouver does have limitations on muffler and exhaust sounds.

This article did not comment on the sound levels set by the regulations, nor will I. The importance of this article rests with the interest of a real estate company in informing people about how major cities in Canada restricted vehicle noises. After reading it, I wondered if any real estate agency in the U.S. similarly examined vehicle noise regulations in major American cities and will look into it. I do know that noise groups have compared overall noise regulations and bylaws in different major U.S. cities. Interestingly, during the pandemic I have heard that some people may consider living in communities with greater access to parks and green areas. I have to say that being able to walk along the East River and into nearby parks in my New York City neighborhood was a blessing during this horrific year.