(Post-event update: This webinar concluded successfully with great presentations, discussion, ideas, and networking. More content is being added to this page even after the event. Consideration is under way for next steps. To be continued! Everyone is encouraged to learn about the issues of noise, plus the regulations in Vancouver, and certainly do participate in the city’s official survey before the May 30 deadline. )
The City of Vancouver is undertaking an extensive review to modernize and enhance the Noise Control By-law, seeking input from everyone who lives, works or operates a business in Vancouver (more info at this link “What are your thoughts about noise in Vancouver”).
CityHallWatch sees this as a good opportunity for a public discussion about the issue of noise, where is the balance between human activities and quiet? What about regulation and enforcement? What are your top concerns, ideas, and suggestions about urban noise?
Participants might gain some valuable input that will help them complete the City’s online survey (at this link, deadline May 30 – https://www.shapeyourcity.ca/noise-control-by-law-review/survey_tools/survey), empower them to advocate for the kind of soundscape they would like (and/or can accept) in their city.
Title: CityHallWatch webinar and chat (Thu – 18 May – 7pm): Vancouver Noise: Your concerns/ideas and the City’s bylaw review
Date: Thursday May 18, 2023
Time: 7 pm start, for 60 minutes. (“Doors” open 6:50 with opening video) We will do a “soft” closing at 8 pm, but persons who wish to remain will be able to stay on to continue discussions)
Where: Online (Zoom – register first to receive actual meeting link)
Host/moderator: Randy Helten, CityHallWatch Media Foundation
Registration required (participation is free, but space is limited): https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMtdeGrqzsuG924VsRHVD5V9OKP51fUS9gQ
1. Intro and presentations (30 min)
– Background: Overview of noise topics, Vancouver’s noise bylaw, the current survey
– Arline Bronzaft, PhD (health impacts of noise, New York City Noise Code, enforcement)
– Elvira Lount (beach noise, party boats, special events, dealing with enforcement in Vancouver)
– Geoffrey Blair, MD, FRCSC
– Jan L. Mayes, retired audiologist
– Holly Hayes, A Beach for Everyone
– Other valuable input has been received (construction noise, neighbour noise, etc.), and will be presented by the moderator
2. Moderated discussion and open floor (30 min.)
Note that we will do a soft closing at 8 pm, but may continue for those who wish to remain.
PANELISTS (about 4 min each)
- Arline Bronzaft, PhD: Environmental psychologist and long-term researcher, writer and consultant on the effects of noise on mental and physical health for over five decades. In her hometown of New York City she has been continuously appointed by five NYC mayors to the Board of GrowNYC where she oversees its noise activities, and assisted in the 2007 revision of New York City’s noise code. She is also a Board Member of Vancouver’s Right to Quiet Society.
- Elvira Lount (local activist/filmmaker, founder of Keep Kits Beach Wild and former board member of Right to Quiet society)
- Dr. Geoffrey Blair: Retired Pediatric Surgeon who for more than 30 years worked at British Columbia Children’s Hospital where he was the Surgeon-in-Chief from 2001 to 2010. Currently, a UBC Clinical Professor, he teaches Surgery at the medical school. As an advocate for environmental protections and especially with concerns for the welfare of all children, he has helped to inject climate health issues into the school’s curriculum. He has also lobbied for years for a ban on gas-powered lawn equipment in the city of Vancouver.
- Other materials have been received, and will be presented by the moderator.
YouTube recording of webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIdPC51blhM
– Randy Helten (Intro and overview) (0:00)
– Arline Bronzaft, PhD (health impacts of noise, New York City Noise Code, enforcement) (10:25)
– Geoffrey Blair, MD, FRCSC (leaf blowers) (21:32)
– Randy Helten (construction noise) (30:14)
– Elvira Lount (beach noise, party boats, special events, dealing with enforcement in Vancouver) (33:30)
– Holly Hayes (efforts of the group ‘A Beach for Everyone’ to advocate for a healthy sound environment on beaches in Vancouver’s West End) (40:33)
– Maggie (quote about neighbour noise, as one example) (49:05)
– Jan L. Mayes (cognitive and health impacts of noise) (50:48)
– Discussion (53:38)
Presentation slides by moderator:
Residents love their soundscapes and have various concerns about a variety of noise sources (traffic, construction, sirens, parties, boats on the water, amplifiers and buskers, leaf blowers, and more). We know that people do pay attention to the sound environment. 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.
CityHallWatch invited the City of Vancouver to provide a speaker/panelist for this event. They graciously declined, saying “We hope to hear from as many people as possible and thank you for amplifying this survey. … the online survey is just the first phase of this multiphase review, which will help provide areas of focus for further review. Given this is the first phase of this process, staff are seeking to understand people’s thoughts and concerns, and don’t yet have options to present to the public.”
The City of Vancouver survey deadline is Tuesday, May 30, 2023: https://www.shapeyourcity.ca/noise-control-by-law-review/survey_tools/survey)
Additional CoV links:
- Shape Your City’s Noise Control By-Law review dedicated web page: https://www.shapeyourcity.ca/noise-control-by-law-review
- An Ideas page where members of the public can submit and comment on ideas for the noise control bylaw: https://www.shapeyourcity.ca/noise-control-by-law-review?tool=brainstormer#tool_tab
- Handy summary of Vancouver’s summary of our current noise regulations.
- Noise Control By-law (PFD, 2.8MB) – https://bylaws.vancouver.ca/6555c.PDF
Right to Quiet Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection (extensive resources, highly recommended): https://quiet.org/ especially the Resources page: https://quiet.org/resources/
Noise and neighbours (People’s Law School): An excellent resource about neighbour noise (what you should know, how to work out problems, helpful agencies, free or low-cost legal help, finding a lawyer or mediator. https://www.peopleslawschool.ca/noise-and-neighbours/
Quiet Parks International: https://www.quietparks.org/
“A Beach For Everyone” (Vancouver’s West End): https://abeachforeveryone.org/
Quiet Communities, Inc. (QCi) is a nonprofit U.S. organization dedicated to helping communities reduce health and environmental harm from noise and pollution. Five programs are Quiet Landcare, Quiet Coalition, Quiet Healthcare, Quiet Empowerment, and Quiet American Skies. They strive to generate long lasting structural and behavioral changes that result in quieter, more sustainable, and more livable communities: https://quietcommunities.org/
REGULATIONS AND RECOMMENDED DOWNLOADS
City of Vancouver Noise Control By-law (44 pages) – https://bylaws.vancouver.ca/6555c.PDF
City of Vancouver Motor Vehicle Noise and Emission Abatement By-law No. 9344 (7 pages) https://bylaws.vancouver.ca/9344c.PDF
Vancouver Park Board bylaws: https://parkboardmeetings.vancouver.ca/files/BYLAW-ParksBylawsConsolidated-20210621.pdf
City of Vancouver – Street Entertainment on City Property (incl. busking), guidelines, rules, enforcement by Street Use Inspectors or Police Officers: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/street-entertainment-application.pdf
Summary of Vancouver City and Park Board bylaws and regulations relating to music and amplification (includes info on parks, streets, beaches, party boats, liquor control regulations, a party boat petition, etc.), by Elvira Lount 18-May-2023: https://cityhallwatch.files.wordpress.com/2023/05/vancouver-city-and-park-board-bylaws_amplified-music-busking_lount-18-may-2023.pdf
Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (Division 7A): No person shall start, drive, turn or stop any motor vehicle, or accelerate the vehicle engine while the vehicle is stationary, in a manner which causes any loud and unnecessary noise in or from the engine, exhaust system or the braking system, or from the contact of the tires with the roadway. Link: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/26_58_04
Canada Noise Regulations & Bylaws by Province (and key city) – An excellent summary of regulations all across Canada: https://www.zolo.ca/blog/noise-regulations
New York City Noise Code (This Code balances the important reputation of New York as a vibrant, world-class city that never sleeps, with the needs of those who live in, work in, and visit the city. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Police Department (NYPD) share the duties of enforcing the Noise Code.): https://www.nyc.gov/site/dep/environment/noise-code.page
A Guide to New York City’s Noise Code (Understanding the most common sources of noise in the city): https://www.nyc.gov/assets/dep/downloads/pdf/air/noise/noise-code-guide-summary.pdf
ARTICLES, DOCUMENTS, PODCASTS, VIDEOS
A Quieter, More Respectful Society, by Arline L. Bronzaft, PhD, The Hearing Journal, Sept 2022 (article, 2 pages): https://cityhallwatch.files.wordpress.com/2023/05/a-quieter-more-respectful-society-bronzaft-hearing-journal-sep-2022.pdf
City of Vancouver Noise Bylaw Review: Input on Health Impact, by Jan L. Mayes, MSc, Audiologist (Retired), 18-May-2023. Paper with specific comments for Vancouver’s bylaw review (7 pages) including noise exposure limits, noise-sensitive groups, sleep disturbance, noise reduction prevents future costs, improving noise prention actions, and extensive info sources. Link: https://cityhallwatch.files.wordpress.com/2023/05/cov-bylaws-v2-noise-and-health-risks-jan-l-mayes-may-2023.pdf
“Quiet Parks and Quiet Spaces” (Video) (In observation of the 27th annual International Noise Awareness Day (INAD), and to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Vancouver based Right to Quiet, a virtual forum was held on April 27, 2022 examining the health enhancing benefits of quiet green spaces, and the importance of protecting such spaces from noise pollution for the benefit of humans and urban wildlife.”): https://youtu.be/T27p9Wjg8rI
“Hear Nature again,” a compilation (video) created by Elvira Lount for this webinar, focusing on illegal amplified music in our parks, buskers, party boats and special event noise. (2:14) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrLPppHBAkM
Noise Is All around Us—and It’s Affecting You More than You Think (During the pandemic, our noise levels dropped and the world changed. Should we fight for more quiet?) by Bojan Fürst, The Narwhal, 19-May-2023. Link – https://thewalrus.ca/noise-ethics/
Noise pollution and violent crime (article). Every 1 dB increase results in 1.6% increase in violent crime rate. Every 4.1 dB increase results in a 6.6% increase in violent crime rate. Decreasing noise pollution could decrease violent crime rate (which has impact on social interactions, policing costs, etc.). Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272722001505
The fight to preserve and revive quiet places (podcast): On May 15, 2023, CBC Radio had a wonderful and timely interview with Jonathan Kawchuk, a composer, and Canadian representative for Quiet Parks International. Listen to the 19-minute segment here: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-63-the-current/clip/15984729-the-fight-preserve-revive-canadas-quiet-places. See transcript here (jump down the page to “Quiet Places.”) Lots of information about sound and noise.
What are your thoughts about *NOISE* in Vancouver? City seeks input to update Noise Control By-law. Survey ends May 30 (CityHallWatch post, 11-May-2023) Link: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2023/05/11/vancouver-noise-survey-bylaw-update/
Excessive noise ticket if your vehicle is too loud? Web page. https://bcdrivinglawyers.com/can-you-get-a-ticket-if-your-vehicle-is-too-loud/
SELECTED MEDIA COVERAGE
‘It’s maddening’: Vancouver Broadway Subway construction noise affects neighbours (City News video 3 minutes, 18-May-2022. It’s a noisy nightmare for a man who lives and works right next to the Broadway Subway construction. Why he says the City of Vancouver won’t do anything about his complaints. Crystal Laderas reports.) Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_4L9BciB38
Noise city: Vancouver’s noisiest neighbourhoods. Simon Little, Global news 12-Jul-2016. (Based on 311 calls to the City, with map) an excellent overview of issues and regulations as of 2016: https://globalnews.ca/news/3519121/noise-city-vancouvers-noisiest-neighbourhoods/
More is coming
To be added
MORE NOISE-RELATED STORIES…
$35 million project to replace 20 km of SkyTrain Expo Line’s rails will help reduce noise (In recent years, TransLink has been looking to mitigate growing noise issues on SkyTrain through a range of measures and has conducted extensive studies on pilot projects on solutions.)
Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive, 12-May-2023. https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/skytrain-expo-line-rail-replacement-project-federal-funding
Time for Saanich to Ban Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers (useful information, resources): https://www.teale.ca/ban-leaf-blowers
ParX – a presciption for nature: https://www.parkprescriptions.ca/
BROADWAY SUBWAY – noise related
Broadway Subway Project – Commercial in Confidence. Project Agreement Execution Copy. Schedule 4 Part 1: https://www.infrastructurebc.com/wp2/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Schedule-4-Design-and-Construction-Parts-1-to-4-Redacted-1.pdf
Broadway Subway. Noise Technical Data Report, Stantec, 2019: https://www.broadwaysubway.ca/app/uploads/sites/626/2020/08/Noise-Assessment-Technical-Data-Report-October-2019.pdf
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