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noise bylaw toronto

Toronto is cracking down on excessive noise

You know those jerks who fly down the Gardiner at 3 a.m. in cars modified to sound like jet engines? Or the ones who obnoxiously rev their motorcycles in neighbourhoods with echoes (read: all of them)? Or leaf blowers, in general?

They suck, and the city knows it.

After five years of back and forth and back again, Toronto City Council has finally put its stamp of approval on a new noise bylaw for the first time since 2010.

The bylaw revisions, adopted yesterday with a 23-2 vote at City Hall, tighten the rules for everything from nightclubs and concert venues to construction sites and loading docks.

Most notably, the law increases maximum fines for those who emit "unreasonable" amounts of noise from $5,000 to $100,000.

What counts as "unreasonable" depends on the situation, but a newly-added amendment to the bylaw defines its as "Any noise that would disturb the peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of a reasonable person in the circumstances."

"Unreasonable noise does not include commonplace household or workplace sounds such as sound from furniture being moved, children playing or people engaging in conversation," reads the amendment.

Barking dogs, on the other hand, are a problem.

"No person shall cause or permit persistent noise, including barking, calling or whining or other similar persistent noise, to be made by any animal kept or used for any purpose," states the new bylaw.

Some of the new rules were designed to make enforcing noise bylaws easier. Clubs and concerts, for instance, will be penalized only after surpassing a specific decibel level. 

Same goes for all "continuous amplified sounds" as measured with a sound level meter. Different decibel level caps are listed for different points of reception (a balcony, for instance, as opposed to a living room with the door shut.)

Construction companies will need to apply for exemptions in order to work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. (9 a.m. on Saturdays and never on Sundays or holidays), which should come as welcome news to residents in neighbourhoods where loud equipment noises keep them up at night.

How many more of those exemptions are actually granted remains to be seen.

Power devices like leaf blowers and lawn mowers are henceforth prohibited after 7 p.m. (as opposed the previous 9 p.m) and as for my best friends, the gratuitous engine-revvers, the city says this:

"No person shall emit or cause or permit the emission of sound resulting from unnecessary motor vehicle noise, such as the sounding of a horn, revving of an engine, squealing of tires, banging, clanking or any like sound that is clearly audible at a point of reception."

Motorcycles, specifically, are prohibited from emitting any sound exceeding 92 decibels from their exhaust outlets "as measured at 50 cm, while the motorcycle engine is at idle."

You can learn more about the new bylaw, how it differs from the last one and why right here.

Lead photo by

Nicoli Oz Mathews

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