Preamble: Many Vancouverites love their right to quiet. Surprise! Today is the 26th Annual International Noise Awareness Day! See press release from the Right to Quiet Society below.
Over the years, CityHallWatch has covered the issues of noise vs quiet a number of times. From the media you can clearly see that residents do love their quiet and have various concerns about various noise sources (traffic, parties, boats on the water, amplifiers and buskers, loud cars/trucks/motorcycles, leaf blowers, and more). We know that people do pay attention to the sound environment. Just yesterday, social media were ablaze within seconds after they heard two CF-18 fighter jets fly over Vancouver (see CBC article). More and more scientific research is coming out about the human health benefits of quiet and the ability to have access to natural sounds. And about the need for quiet for all forms of wildlife, even insects to survive and thrive in their ecosystems and lifecycles.
One of CityHallWatch‘s key issues is construction noise (e.g., “Demolition and construction impacts” and our “Demolition and Construction Impacts“) — just search for “noise” in our search tool. The city has the noise bylaw, but developers and construction sites often seem to get a free pass in terms of hours and decibels (see our YouTube video – Westbank project breaks 100 db. Warning – turn down your volume!). If we have one wish this year, it would be for the City of Vancouver to engage in serious discussions with the Urban Development Institute (industry lobby group) to look at how to reduce construction noise. In Japan, some construction sites have a public-facing noise meter on site, which makes it very transparent how much noise a site is producing, and real-time tracking via a website. (Potential opportunity for an app builder). We’d love to see that requirement for major projects in Metro Vancouver, with meters posted close to the machines. How about ratings for quiet neighbourhoods? Or a map of the best places to hear nature without human-caused disturbances? For noise affecting aquatic live, how about a hydrophone placed in English Bay with a real time meter online? If citizens become more aware of their right to quiet, improvements can be made. Tip: Your app store has many free noise meters for you to choose from.
Below is a press release from the B.C.-based Right to Quiet Society (quiet.org). Vancouver’s Elvira Lount is one of the directors. The website has many excellent resources for people who want to get involved and learn more. See bottom of this post for some links to the City of Vancouver relating to noise.
Right to Quiet is proud to join participants around the world in celebrating the 26th Annual International Noise Awareness Day (INAD) on April 28, 2021. INAD has publicized the effects of harmful noise on hearing, health and quality of life since 1996. Partners promote this common goal through educational, legislative and social media initiatives, which include observing one full minute of silence at 2:15 p.m. in their local time zone (https://noiseawareness.org).
Another awareness needs attention. Taking its cue from renowned Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, the Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection (SSAP) was founded in 1982; the name Right to Quiet emerged later. Solely supported by members, we have distributed hundreds of books and teaching packs to libraries and schools across British Columbia. Our efforts have led municipal and provincial authorities to establish quiet zones and ecological reserves designated free of anthropogenic noise, and progressive legislation such as construction-free Sundays and “quiet beach” policies in Metro Vancouver. These initiatives have influenced other Canadian jurisdictions to introduce similar policies.
Calls for help come from far and wide. They include unnecessary motor vehicle noise and various marine vessel noise issues affecting people across North America. The latter often involve overlap of multiple jurisdictions, which significantly complicates finding solutions.
Our current projects include urging governments to mandate noise level labels for consumer products, similar to policy in the European Union, where labelling of over 60 types of equipment has been in effect for decades, and introducing sound education modules in elementary, middle and high schools. Such programs have been piloted in New York City public schools, and related programs were just getting going in 2020 as COVID-19 emerged, when educational programs were postponed.
What can concerned individuals do? Forward this to friends and colleagues, talk about INAD, and support protection of natural soundscapes in your community. Visit Quiet.org to learn about our efforts and those
of our affiliates toward reducing environmental noise.
LINKS at City of Vancouver
Property use, noise and graffiti (learn the limits, learn what you can do, report noise) – https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/property-use-noise-and-graffiti.aspx
Noise Control Bylaw, especially relating to construction noise – https://vancouver.ca/your-government/noise-control-bylaw.aspx
Get a noise bylaw exception permit – https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/noise-bylaw-exception-permit.aspx