I am sure I am not the only person who, on a clear night, hears street racers dangerously tearing through our neighbourhoods.
The sleep-disturbing after-market exhausts of these vehicles are certainly a violation of Saanich’s noise bylaws as well as Section 7A.01 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (which concerns unnecessary noise), however effective reporting and enforcement is not currently possible.
This is because of particular challenges with enforcing these kinds of laws. As I have been told in correspondence with Saanich police, “before an officer can even consider enforcement action against offending vehicles, they must first locate them or find them committing the described infractions, which generally poses a significant challenge.”
By the time someone has phoned in a report, the offending vehicle is long gone, and unless you actually see the vehicle screaming past, your complaint will be vague and not actionable.
While Saanich’s noise suppression ordinances need an overhaul, there is something that can be done to deal with this particularly noxious source of noise pollution. Rather than relying on vague complaints, Saanich should explore innovative ways of monitoring and enforcing its noise bylaws.
One such approach is the use of noise cameras. These acoustic cameras operate similar to speed cameras – if microphones inside the device detect a vehicle breaching legal noise limits, a photo is taken and a ticket sent to the owner. Noise cameras have been piloted and employed in the UK, France and even Edmonton, which set up eight cameras in summer and fall 2018 and recorded 25,600 incidents of vehicles louder than 85 decibels!
Given the well-documented harms of noise pollution to health and well-being, action is needed. I encourage Saanich to explore using noise cameras to address this issue. Our current approach is not working.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff