Regulation of noise

Noise is one of the classic irritants that drives neighbours crazy. While not a “pollutant” in the traditional sense of a “chemical” or ” substance”, noise is “emitted” into the natural environment and is regulated under environmental laws.

What is noise?

One of the central problems with noise is how to define it. The federal nor Ontario¬† governments leave this to the municipalities, which struggle for clarity. For example, Guelph defines noise as “sound that is of such a volume or nature that it is likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City” and Toronto’s simply as “unwanted sound”. Generally, noise means a sound that does or may disturb the quiet, peace, enjoyment or comfort of people who are in the vicinity. Noise can come from a stationary source (e.g., industrial operations, fixed equipment, air conditioners, construction work), mobile sources (mainly transport-related, especially road traffic, but aircraft and trains can be significant sources of noise in some areas; your neighbour’s chainsaw) and may be generated by people and animals (e.g., shouting, music, parties, barking dogs). Sometimes all it takes is the tinkling of a neighbour’s wind chime to drive somebody nuts.

Components of sound

Sound has two basic characteristics, frequency (pitch, measured in wave cycles per second, or hertz) and intensity (loudness, measured by sound pressure level, in a logarithmic scale called decibels). Most of us can hear sounds within a frequency range of 20-20,000 Hz, and we vary in our tolerance of loud sounds: zero dB represents the (approximate) threshold of normal hearing. Generally, sounds of up to 60dB are quiet (e.g., normal conversation, singing birds), while 100 dB is extremely loud (e.g., powered lawnmower or tractor, inside of subway train); 120 dB is uncomfortably loud (e.g., amplified rock music, jackhammer) and the threshold for human ear pain is 140 dB (e.g., jet plane at takeoff, shotgun blast).

Does noise impact health?

Health Canada, in its 1998 report The Health and Environment Handbook for Health Professionals: Health and Environment, identifies environmental noise as an emerging health concern. Noise can have impact on health: hearing loss, stress-related effects like sleep disturbances, decreased school or job performance. As well, the report by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Health Effects of Noise (2000) indicates that elevated blood pressure and physiological reactions to noise may possibly lead to increased cardiovascular disease.

How is noise regulated?

Federal government

The federal government sets standards for noise emission labelling and maximum sound emissions for consumer products (e.g., limits for noisy toys, under the Hazardous Products Act), as well as for equipment and vehicles. For example, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act & regulations mandate maximum exterior sound levels for vehicles, as well as interior sound levels for certain large trucks and buses.

The Canada Labour Code regulates occupational noise in federally regulated workplaces. Every employer must ensure that levels of sound and vibration are in accordance with prescribed standards. For example, the Aviation Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and the Oil and Gas Occupational Safety and Health Regulations under the Code set maximum sound levels to which workers can be exposed during a 24-hour period.

Health Canada’s Acoustics Division promotes reduction of the health effects of noise exposure and provides and implements standards to protect against occupational and environmental noise, among other things. As well, Health Canada is required to advise on the health effects of environmental noise to environmental assessments involving other federal departments. For example, in 1989, Health Canada commented on the health aspects of noise that would be associated with the construction of additional runways at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

Health Canada spearheaded development of the (voluntary) Canadian Standards Association’s standard Noise Emission Declarations for Machinery. These declarations appear in instructions, technical sales literature and labels and also assist employers in decisions to purchase quieter machines, implement noise control plans and comply with occupational and environmental noise regulations.

Provincial laws

The provinces establish noise control guidelines for land use planning, and also authorize municipalities to create and implement municipal plans and noise-control by-laws. Occupational noise exposure thresholds are also set by provincial occupational health and safety laws and regulations. The provinces are also responsible for controlling the noise levels for many products, equipment and vehicles while in operation, through various environmental and other statutes. For example, unnecessary noise from a bell, horn or signalling device is prohibited under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.

Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA) prohibits the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect. Under the EPA, “discharge” includes emitting something. A “contaminant” can mean sound and an “adverse effect” includes harm or material discomfort (to a person), adverse health effect and loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.

Not all noise is prohibited; for example, facilities that create noise may obtain permits called “certificates of approval” from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) that permit them to emit noise (e.g., through their operations, machinery, etc) up to a certain threshold. There are extensive MOE guidelines on applying for noise approvals, which require, at a minimum, that the proponent assess and document the impacts of all noise emissions from a facility on sensitive locations outside their premises.

Some permits require that noise levels be controlled. For example, under the Licences to Sell Liquor Regulation to Ontario’s Liquor Licence Act, anyone who holds a licence to sell liquor in outdoor premises may not permit noise from entertainment or from the sale and service of liquor to disturb nearby residents. A recent case illustrates how politically charged these issues may be. From 1996 to 2006, a business called Docks on Cherry operated under a liquor licence at the Toronto waterfront. Due to numerous complaints from neighbours over the years, the City opposed renewal and expansion of the licence. The Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario held a 26-day hearing during which the City gave evidence of repeated violations of the noise by-law and several charges under that by-law. The AGCO revoked the licence. Although this was not the end of the matter (the Divisional Court set aside the decision, and the AGCO and City sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal), the issue became moot as another entity purchased the site, and managed come to an agreement with the neighbours to have its liquor licence approved. In granting the licence in 2008, the AGCO added several conditions to the licence, including that no sound emanating from the premises be audible (i.e., to the human hear of any person, unassisted by mechanical or other means) to the nearby community at any time; and that a monitor be assigned to roam the community and report any sound audible immediately, and to respond to complaints. As well, other security and testing procedures were mandated. (See in Re Polson Pier Entertainment Inc.)

Municipalities

Ontario’s Municipal Act, 2001 gives municipalities the power to prohibit and regulate with respect to noise. Similar provisions exist in other provinces. As well, municipalities control land use management, zoning, traffic management and road noise barrier programs. Municipal public health boards, established under Ontario’s Health Protection & Promotion Act (HPPA), are required under the 2008 Ontario Public Health Standards (and related Protocols) to identify health hazards and take action. The term “health hazard” is defined broadly in the HPPA as a condition of a premises; a substance, thing, plant or animal other than human, or as solid, liquid, gas or combination that has or is likely to have an adverse effect on human health. While it is not clear whether “noise” would be included as such a hazard, public health units typically provide health programs that address hearing issues.

Municipal noise by-laws typically include prohibitions on certain types of noise (e.g., operating loud machinery/tools, shouting, loud music, barking, honking) at specified times (e.g., after 11 p.m. or all the time) in prohibited areas (e.g., residential). They typically contain both objective and subjective criteria. Objective criteria include, for example, prohibiting continuous (or non-continuous) sound that exceeds a certain sound meter rating, or exceeds background noise by a certain amount. As well, limitations may be set for certain sound emissions (e.g., from residential air conditioners). However, it is often a judgment call as to whether someone has infringed a noise by-law where the criteria to consider are whether the sound was “likely to disturb” neighbours (or a religious ceremony in a place of worship), or “clearly audible” to all or most?

By-laws are sometimes challenged in courts as overly vague or prohibitive, or as infringing rights of the noise-maker under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, in 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right of municipalities to regulate environmental nuisances, in Montreal (Ville) v. 2952-1366 Quebec Inc. The City had charged a nightclub with breaching its noise by- law, by using loudspeakers to broadcast its shows into the street. Two lower courts quashed the bylaw, saying it infringed the club’s freedom of expression. The Supreme Court agreed that the street is a public place where free expression is protected, and the amplified soundtrack was indeed a protected form of expression. However, the Court found that the by-law was justified: there is a pressing and substantial need to control noise pollution, and the by-law went no farther than necessary. City officials had made a reasonable effort to identify and control only those noises that interfered with people’s peaceful enjoyment of the city.

Some municipalities have comprehensive noise control guidelines. For example, Ottawa’s Environmental Noise Control Guidelines (2006), based mainly on MOE policies and guidelines, implement the noise policies in the City’s Official Plan.

Some challenges in regulating noise

The subjective criteria used in noise by-laws and guidelines make it difficult for triers-of-fact to make objective decisions. The standard may vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in a community. For example noise may be defined as sound that is “clearly audible” under certain circumstances, or “of such a volume or nature that it is likely to disturb”; or “can easily be heard by an individual who is not on the same premises”. The “high annoyance”, which is usually measured via community surveys, is widely used to measure the well-being of residents.

One gap in federal laws is that products are not monitored after they are sold, when they might deteriorate and exceed sound thresholds required when they were manufactured.

As sound levels, frequency and quality vary with time, it is difficult to determine what the impact of sound will be at the planning stages of any project. As well, the cumulative impact of several noise sources may be difficult to assess. Experts are now able to project sound impacts through sophisticated computer modelling programs, but caution that ongoing noise monitoring is critical.

Conclusion

It’s a no-brainer that noise should be controlled; noise control efforts should be directed to reducing noise at its source, such as during the design stages of a new facility or equipment.

Minimizing noise not only helps to reduce adverse health effects to exposed workers, it also greatly reduces annoyance in the workplace and community

Resources

Believe it or not, Health Canada’s The Health and Environment Handbook for Health Professionals: Health and Environment is hard to find – we located a copy posted on the WHO’s Panamerican Health Organization site, Virtual library of sustainable development and environmental health, at http://www.bvsde.paho.org/muwww/fulltext/saneam/health/Chapter3.pdf

Ottawa Noise Control Guidelines

http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/planning/design_plan_guidelines/completed/noise_ctl/index_en.html

The Canadian Hearing Society’s October 2008 Position Paper on Noise Pollution at

Guelph by-law

http://guelph.ca/uploads/PDF/By-laws/noise.pdf

Vancouver by-law

http://vancouver.ca/bylaws/6555c.PDF

Toronto’s by-law

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/bylaws/2002/law0476.pdf

Health Canada

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/noise-bruit/index-eng.php

Noise control & impact assessment at Health Canada

http://www.inspq.qc.ca/aspx/docs/jasp/presentations/2004/20041201/01Bruit/JASP2004-Bly-HealthCanada.pdf

Health Canada Acoustics Division

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/branch-dirgen/hecs-dgsesc/psp-psp/ccrpb-bpcrpcc_accoust-eng.php

Health Canada’s presentation concerning the Pearson airport runway addition

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/noise-bruit/aircraf-avion/airport-pearson-aeroport-eng.php

Ontario Public Health Standards (2008)

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/pubhealth/oph_standards/ophs/progstds/pdfs/ophs_2008.pdf

Identification, Investigation and Management of Health Hazards Protocol

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/pubhealth/oph_standards/ophs/progstds/protocols/identification_health_hazards.pdf

Polson Pier Liquor application

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/te/bgrd/backgroundfile-9093.pdf

& http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2008/07/03/entertainment-complex-reaches-deal-with-toronto-island-neighbours.aspx

Comments

  1. Benj Braga

    is there such standard level or time allotment for music bands to practice in a residential area, need your help to know the noise bylaws on residential areas regarding this matter. location is red deer, canada

    • Dear Mr. Braga,Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, we cannot give legal advice through the blog, or to non-clients. The clerk of your municipality should be able to give you a copy of the local noise bylaw; many municipalities post these bylaws on their website.Many thanks and best wishesDianne Saxe

  2. maggie

    I live in River Oaks,Oakville,ontario near 6th line and dundas st. The noise is getting worse everyday from the road traffic. They are expanding this highway by two more lanes making it a six lane highway. I know my health is suffering from the stress of the noise both inside and out. I cannot sit outside in my backyard without it sounding like an airport, no exaggeration. Inside i have to have music on to drown out the engine noise. The city proposes to plant more trees on the berm which will be useless. Does anyone know what I can do about this legally???
    Maggie

    • Lesa

      I hear you and have been sending complaints to Jeff Reid and the mayor's office for the past three years. They have promised a sound absorbing wall then recanted and said they are starting a Rapid bus transit system , which will just make the noise even worse. I don't know why more people are not bothered by this but am so upset that i cannot sit outsided front or back to enjoy a coffee or conversation with a neighbor.

  3. KenMolyneaux

    I have a gun club that expanded in Kazabazua Quebec, They happened to expand by putting a handgun range 2oo feet away from my property ,which is beside a once peacefull lake, now they are about to put a skeet shooting range beside that, the handgun range is for the surete de quebec, also to shoot there,..
    so when I phone about the noise they say its legal, I wrote to the environment minister, the municipality , the chief firearms officer, and many others,,,but that didnt help either.
    I contacted a lawyer and I am at 2 thousand dollars now and the lawyer wants to take it to court but im running out of money…The funny thing is this land that its on was once called Danford lake farms limited…I didnt think you could put something like this on farmland….I guess our system is a little crooked…..I do not trust this government anymore….we as taxpayers dont have any rights anymore….do we???. oh ya my land is 5 acres on waterfront that is now useless to me or anyone else……wow

    • cindy

      Hi Ken,
      I hope by now you have managed to get your situation under control. My parents are over near Quyon where on weekends, the three gravel pits are used as unofficial shooting ranges. The municipality and the pit owners are reluctant to get involved and again, the cops can't do anything because the shooters are using registered firearms. I am hoping that you have some advice that you can share with me. Thanks, Cindy

  4. Kevin.L

    Motorcycle noise in Edmonton.AB has been a growing concern so our city council tells us. I have talked to hundred and hundreds of people on this matter and have only heard one resident complain for two months I've asked everyone in my path and only one person complained. Now city council with only one month warning to public comes to the table with a new Bylaw voted by only some of the council members that showed to read this bylaw and poof there it is Motorcycle noise bylaw first fine $250.00 second fine $1000.00 and up to $10000.00 for third infraction unfortunatly Harley Davidson motorcycles do not meet our citys set noise infraction so what do Harley owners do? This is discrimination against a minority group or freedom to express act?
    What area of law would this fall into?

  5. Joanna

    It's a long shot! Do you know where to find the construction hours and noise bylaws online for Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal? I've tried the city web site without luck…

    • DSS

      Dear Jennifer,
      You could check the condo bylaws and the municipal noise bylaw for information. You could also check the Ministry of the Environment website.
      Best wishes
      Dianne Saxe

  6. Jem

    My neighbors play drums and it's disturbing me. It is almost daily. I checked the bylaws of my City (24/7 noise bylaw) and have complained but it still continues. I have to go to Court to get this to stop. There should be easier ways than going to court to deal with noise difficulties. Somebody should just witness the noise and end this.

  7. Karen

    Our residential street is across a field from our small town fairgrounds. The fairground committee had now started renting the grounds out to an atv racing club. They are packed in there on every long weekend. Tracks have been built and now the municipality is trying to rezone it from agricultural so they can keep having these races more frequently. We cannot sit on our deck and talk when these races are on. We cannot have our windows open. They seem to obey the times to shut it down but it is a major noise nuisance and quite stressful to residents. Some of them work shift work. We have given a petition to council but there are a lot of people in the area that want the races because of increased business to their stores. Needless to say, they do not live near this. I have been told that the noise from this track is heard over five miles away so you can imagine how bad this is for us. We are going to the next coucil meeting on Sept 12. Any suggestions on what we should arm ourselves with (paper wise of course) would be appreciated.

    • DSS

      Karen, this is a common problem.
      You can ask the medical officer of health and your local doctors for support, if health is being affected. There are some good references to research on noise and health in the Erickson (Kent Breeze) decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal- see my blog post from July. You can also sue the fairground operators for nuisance, if the noise is unreasonable – there is an excellent precedent. We'll be glad to help you and your neighbours with this if you wish.
      Best wishes
      Dianne

  8. peter Elwood

    I live in the country. A neighboiur moved in with 18 huskies. They all howl and sing at 5:30 am for an hour and at 5:00 pm for a hour. I am sick from getting up at 5:30 every morning.
    What can i do?

    • DSS

      Peter, I understand your frustration- we have noisy neighbours ourselves. I assume you have talked with your neighbours about the issue. You could check whether your municipality has a noise bylaw that is being breached, and whether they will enforce it. You can also sue your neighbours for nuisance, if the noise is unreasonable.
      Best wishes
      Dianne

  9. Shu Fang

    My name is Shu Fang from Montreal. I bought a condo unit last year. The unit is in the semi-basement, but the electrical room having four transformers inside is just between the master bedroom and the living room and the transformers make a lot of noise, it is really frustrating. Could you please tell what regulations govern the the constant noise level in the bedroom? What do you suggest to us to resolve this noise problem? Thanks.

  10. ron banman

    high efficiency furnace venting into condo common property destroys the peace and tranquility of the neighbors front yard and is an infraction of the bylaws and is also a possible safety hazard as it can be directed into the fresh air intakes. will a demand letter suffice the condo board to have the furnace vented out of the roof chimney?

  11. Dimitrova

    My neighbours are renovating and for 6 weeks now, there is drilling and hammering directly above our unit. We cannot work or rest when they do this and we never know when it will be noisy. In the next 2-3 weeks, the contractor staff will run compressors and use saws. I have asked the contractor and my condo manager to be notified when and for how long there will be drilling so I can plan to leave the unit. It seemed to me a reasonable request but it did not happen. I am horrified at the prospect of compressors and saws in the future. The contractor says our manager assured him there are no noise restrictions in the building; they can work from 8 am to 6 pm. The condo manager treats me as if I am the nuisance. Are these normal by-laws? Can I do anything? Thanks.

  12. garth

    i thought this was a web-blog for someone with intuitive and legal qualifications to help out people with major [noise] problems. It doesn’t seem like it is when the only person who can help simply says “…we don’t provide…advice…over the internet…”. Then what is this blog’s purpose?– to become another entity where people discover they can’t be helped here either? far too many municipalities are very lax on building allotment, noise and pollution bylaw enforcement as it isn’t popular with their photo-op agenda. They feel more comfortable getting a front page pic before the building site of yet another one of so many endless oversized condo buildings whilst being supported by those same developers who pay their election campaigns.

  13. Josie

    I just moved into my new condo. The unit next to me has been rented out. He had a party the other night and the music was very loud. Not only did I have to complain about the noise but smell that was linguring into my condo. They were smoking weed! What are my rights?

  14. Perky

    Is there anything that can be done regarding the noise from elevators in a condo building ? The residences that are directly behind the elevator shafts, i.e., the units surround the elevator shaft ? These elevators make weird grinding noises and distinctive clunking noises every time the elevator cabs stop, 24 hours a day.

  15. Darren

    I have lived in my home for almost a decade but last year some trash moved in and they party day in, day out. The noise has affected my physical health. I have reported the incident to the property managers, they have issued a letter, but the nuisance has increased with more frequent partying very late into the morning. Slamming doors, gates, yelling, screaming, impact noises, what can be done? move? wear earplugs? wearing earplugs will not stop vibration. Why are there no consequences for such anti-social behavior? Why can’t trash like this be evicted for creating a disturbance that affects an entire block?

  16. Vivian

    I live in a condo.The unit under me always complains that I make noise and affect his family's life. He asks me to follow his requirements as following:
    1. Can not make noice when walking at home and outside stairs;
    2. Try not to move and wash after 9 pm because he is going to bed;
    3. Can not use vacuum cleaner from 1pm to 5pm because his little daught sleeps;
    4. When washing in the kitchin,be careful on noise and vibration;
    5. Should use cushion under feet of chairs, sofa and table.

    I feel that my life is controlled by him. What can I do to protect my normal life from his disturbance?

    • Linda

      Wow, we are the below neighbours in a situation where I WISH they would follow some sort of courteous noise reduction, but our neighbours conduct themselves perfectly to suit themselves. They have a new baby so they fall out of bed and drop their shoes on the floor when getting back to bed therefore we are awakened for 100% of their child’s feedings. For 3 months prior to the baby they built IKEA furniture on the floor above our bedroom into the midnight and beyond. (I WOULD get up and broomstick the ceiling then). During the day and evening, we call them the olympic 24 hour furniture throwing team. We are gobsmacked as to what they can be doing, they appear to be dragging a sofa around the living room, punctuated by dropping cooking pots for variety. It obviously requires regular clean up as just this morning they were vacuuming at 7am, and have done so over my bedroom. In 9 months here we have made 3 complaints and have offered to carpet their unit. They do not want carpet, do not respond to complaints, citing the building’s poor construction as a convenient excuse to continue to be inconsiderate. So WE are moving. I would tell YOUR PROBLEM PEOPLE that you are sorry but you have a life to conduct and will respect the city’s bylaws with respect to noise and be as considerate as you can however they will also have to adjust… OR MOVE. If you are being considerate – otherwise be considerate. #5 is completely reasonable. #1, don’t wear shoes inside and try to walk softly. Your knee and hip joints will thank you.

  17. Ken

    A gunrange set up 200 feet away from my summer residence in Kazabazua , Q.C_,beside a Childrens Park ( Henry Heeney Memorial Park ,Danfordlake Q.C_Beside a once peacefull Lake, we swim and fish in, no sound barriers in place at the Rifle Range, a road that crosses in the line of fire, so much wrong with this, Just because the RCMP, and the local Police forces, could have a place to shoot,_ they are permitted to break laws.I sent 12 registererd letters and counting to the Minister of Environment. I dont understand our corrupt Government._ ._This is the gun range _club de tir haute gatineau_( they have a website )They even did a site plan that does not mention , the village that is there neighbour, the Park, Lake etc. The range is located in the Municipality of Kazabazua. sincerley…… ken

  18. mike

    Hi I live In the City of Brampton where they have changed the Trucking route to a street behind my home I was wondering who is actually regulates the the city in regards to the amount of noise is allowing due to their changes in policy before any action can be taken ..(it is so load in the backyard at times the you have to shout to carry a conversation ..) I have noticed that the alderman who lives a couple of streets down have gotten a noise barrier put up in their neighbourhood but we were told in our residents that no one had agreed to have a noise barrier put up .. to be honest I really don't believe it to be the truth.
    So I was wondering who over sees the local goverment inregards to matter as such ?

    Thanks

  19. cathy

    I live in a quiet, private residential area in chilliwack BC called Garrisin Crossing. I work nights and come home from work to find a construction company jackhammering right outside my front door starting at 8 am and going on for hours when i say this is right outside my doir i mean literally right infront of my house no warning or notice was given . There has to be something that can be done as i am suffering from migraine and sleep exhaustion!!!

    • DSS

      Hi, Cathy,
      Construction noise is very upsetting and can have a major impact on one’s life. Generally, however, it is temporary, and is not illegal during normal working hours. You can check with your local bylaw enforcement officer for more information; perhaps they can help you find out the schedule of the project. Noise cancelling headphones might help you sleep until the project is over.
      Good luck
      Dianne

  20. Terry

    Tolko forest products in Armstrong BC is making so much noise for so long that it's driving me crazy! Escaping steam, steady, loud and penetrating my home keeping us awake at night. Does Environment Canada have any solution to this? TOLKO is degrading the beautiful Okanagan terribly.

  21. Kelly

    Is this blog still active? If so, can you answer a question regarding residential space above commercial space? There is a spin studio below and apartments above. The building in question is quite old with LIMITED noise barriers. Does the studio – who has early morning class (6:00AM) – fall under the noise bylaws. I can’t find anything on this topic. Thank you in advance.

  22. Nick

    I live in scarborough and my property backs on to an industrial area. Most nights it’s wonderfully quite but some nights, mabe once a week , the garbage trucks with the forks that pick up the containers and lift them up over the cab and dumps in the back , come by to work. If you have ever been close to these machines while operating you know how loud they are. The noise the trucks makes just by its engine is loud, then you have the back up beeper and lights. They are about 60-80 meters from my house and when they slam the containers to the ground it sounds like an explsion, I can feel that vibration, albeit small, through my house. This usually happens around 4-5:30 am during the week by multiple companies. Needless to say my sleeping is seriously affected. My neighbors are in the same boat. What can I do about this? Sue the companies for my lack of sleep and noise? Calls to the bylaw infraction department yield no results, they request me to fill out forms about when and where the noise is coming from and that’s about it. Thanks for any help

    Nick

  23. Kathryn

    Hello Dianne. My home is in a residential area in Kingston. My residence backs onto a large parcel of land. When I bought my home, I was told a school was going to be built there. Just recently the parcel was bought by a contruction company and 30-40 homes are going to be built. Trouble is this parcel contains limestone and requires a large pile driver to break the rock to install basements. The vibrations eminating from this machine reverates through the homes in the area. To make matters worse our own basements acoustically magnify the noise. Currently they are just working on the area close to the watermain hook up. With 30-40 homes to be built we are looking at listening to this pile driver noise for years. Our by-laws allow for noise of this nature from 7 am – 7 pm. And most days thus far the pile driver has been operating for 12 hours with one break for lunch. Can you provide a reference that speaks to the impact of this type of ongoing noise on residential inhabitants. I find it hard to believe that constuction companies can use pile drivers (pneumatic) over this extended period of time. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    Kathryn

    • sherri

      Hey Kathryn,
      I feel for you. I am living with the pile driver noise right now – going on two weeks and probably have many more weeks ahead of me. I work from home – from my basement, and just as you say the noise is amplified tenfold down here. it is a constant, insistent, fast knocking as if someone urgently needs my attention. And yes, it is loud.
      I have had really bad luck. 2.5 years ago we moved from our home because the noise was so bad – they had a two year road and sewer reconstruction project ongoing which was hellish and the students took over at night. The next place we moved had a school being built one street over, directly out my back door. We moved again and after one season of peace and quiet, this new road reconstruction project. I am at wits end. I feel there is nowhere to go that will give any quiet whatsoever.
      The funny thing is, I’ve always lived in the city. Sirens, buses, ambient noise, car alarms – these are understandable and although I notice them they don’t ‘count’ in my opinion – I choose city life. But for goodness sake, these construction projects are beyond noisy – they are all consuming.
      I think mitigation ought to be required to be built in to these projects. Those back up beepers have GOT to go. Barriers should HAVE to be installed. Regular breaks from repetitive noise ought to be mandatory and limited hours of operation (I mean less than the 12 per day that they are currently allowed to work) MUST be put in place. People can’t live like this.

  24. Julia

    My house is on Mt. Pleasant (just south of St. Clair W), the traffic there is getting worse by day, to the point that I find it unbearable. I wonder if I could go to the city to demand for sound barrier wall to be built along my property line?

  25. stacey

    My townhouse is 200 meters from the Polybrite factory which is working 24 hours a day. There is noise continually day and night, and while previously I always used ear plugs to block the noise at night, recently there are also vibrations which prevent me from sleeping.

    In this situation my ear plugs do not help anymore. As a result I am not sleeping at all at night, and I also dread going to bed. What can I do in this situation, and where do I go to deal with this problem? Please advise, as this problem is seriously affecting my health.

    • DSS

      I am sorry to hear about your difficulties. Most people start first with the municipal noise bylaw inspector, the local office of the Ministry of the Environment and/or the Medical Officer of Health. However, it is rare for any of them to produce instant results.

      Also, you could ask the company to send an inspector to your home, to see how bad the problem is. You could also try using a portable measurement device to keep track of how loud the noise is. There are even apps for this on some smart phones.

      Do your neighbours have the same problem? If so, the various government departments, and the company itself, are more likely to pay attention if you all complain in a coordinated fashion, and keep track of the noise that you are experiencing, by decibel level and by time of day.

      Meanwhile, perhaps your doctor can be of assistance, so that you can get some sleep. It may also be possible for you to better insulate your bedroom from noise and vibration. For example, if the vibrations are coming through the bed itself, would it help to put the legs of the bed on something that absorbs vibration, such as a dense foam rubber? If your ear plugs do not help with noise, have you considered a white noise machine and/or good quality over the ear noise canceling headphones?

      If none of these work, and if you and/or your neighbours are in a financial position to do so, it is also possible to retain a good environmental lawyer to commence a nuisance claim on your behalf.
      I hope this helps.

      Dianne Saxe

  26. Alex

    A condo across the street from me has installed a temporary 4 month massive air conditioner chiller outside beside the building. It runs 24 hours 7 days a week. This big chiller is very noisy and disturbs my sleep at night even with earplugs. They received a permit for this temporary chiller. How did they get this approval from the city? Is there anything I can do?

  27. Erika

    We have an auto repair garage that backs on to our house. They leave the back door open during the day and the noise from their shop is very loud, especially the air compressors. We moved into our home 28 years ago, before the garage was built. We have asked them several times to close the door but they do not.
    We have gone to the township but they say we have to resolve it ourselves or go to a lawyer.
    We find it very stressful as the sound penetrates into our house and needless to say we can no longer enjoy sitting in our garden.

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