Silencing Noisy Vehicles

New measures would enhance enforcement against motorists that create excessive noise.

 

Update: This Notice of Motion was carried unanimously on November 2nd 2022 by Calgary City Council.

Update 2: The proposed workplan for community peace officer enforcement was approved by Council on July 4th, 2023, and resourcing this workplan will be part of the November 2023 budget deliberations. A report on automated enforcement will come to Council in Q2 2024.

Update 3: Budget Adjustments approved by Council in November 2023 include investments in a peace officer traffic enforcement team that will focus on vehicle noise (page 21). 

Calgary has bylaws that prohibit excessive vehicle noise, but these have
proven difficult to enforce and prosecute. New measures proposed through the Notice of Motion introduced at today’s Executive Committee meeting would update our bylaws, review fines and penalties, and explore new enforcement methods, including the use of automated technologies, to reduce Calgarians’ exposure to vehicle noise. 

 

Exploring new enforcement methods 

Enforcing noise bylaws for moving vehicles is limited to those with the enforcement authority to perform traffic stops. Proposed changes would explore the costs involved in expanding this enforcement activity to Community Peace Officers, and begin assessing the viability of automated enforcement technology being piloted in other jurisdictions. 

  • In January 2023, Peace Officers will have upgraded to Community Peace Officer Level 1, a first step in enabling Peace Officers to perform traffic stops. Proposed changes would task Administration with assessing the additional costs, training, equipment and approvals involved in having Peace Officers perform traffic stops to enforce vehicle noise bylaws. 
  • At present, only the Calgary Police Service, largely through the CPS Traffic Section, has the authority to pull over moving vehicles through traffic stops. CPS Traffic Section focuses on high-priority traffic concerns related to public safety, including speeding, school and playground zones, concerns related to trucks and commercial vehicles, and pedestrian safety. 
  • Automated technology like noise radar is being piloted in other jurisdictions. This Notice of Motion would task Administration with examining these technologies and assessing their viability and potential effectiveness in our own jurisdiction. 

 

Updating bylaws 

Existing bylaws regarding excessive noise from vehicles have created challenges with regards to enforcement and prosecution. Proposed changes would see these updated to increase enforcement, putting Calgary’s vehicle noise bylaws on par with other nearby jurisdictions. 

  • By comparison, Edmonton’s Community Standards Bylaw specifies sound level limits and measurements for motorcycles (Section 18.1) and specifies that noise bylaws apply to motor vehicles (Section 23).  
  • Red Deer’s Community Standards Bylaw explicitly prohibits motor vehicles from exceeding sound level limits and provides measurement specifications for determining sound levels (Section 5.1). 

 

Reviewing fines and penalties 

Fines and penalties for emitting excessive vehicle noise should act as a sufficient deterrent and reflect the severity of the offence. Proposed changes would task Administration with examining and suggesting changes to fines and penalties to aid in deterring vehicle noise.  

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