Toronto noise

Here's how loud you're actually allowed to be in Toronto

We've all been there. Trying to fall asleep while some loud noise outside our window is keeping us awake, whether it be construction, cars, music, or just a loud group of partiers (hopefully not during lockdown).

We've all also been on the other side of it — being told to keep it down while others are trying to rest.

So how loud is too loud?

According to Toronto's noise bylaws, amplified sound from music, speakers, or any other sort of broadcast can't exceed 55 dB at any point, or 50 dB between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. 

If that means nothing to you, dB (or decibals) is the measurement of sound intensity. A measurement of 50-55 dB would be about the volume of an average conversation at home. So your 2 a.m. music is perfectly legal, as long as it's quiet enough for someone to believe Drake is actually there speaking those lyrics to you.

The general rule of thumb is if something is 10 dB higher, than that means it's twice as loud. A vaccuum cleaner would be about 70dB and a train passing by is somewhere around 80dB.

Construction noise is probably the cause of most complaints as it can easily top 100 dB. Unfortunately for those hoping to sleep off those morning hangovers, all construction noise is permitted between the hours of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. during the week. On Saturdays, that's pushed to 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and completely forbidden on Sundays and statutory holidays.

Power tools mostly follow the same rule as construction, except they can also be used from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. So unforunately, if your neighbour revs up their snowblower at 9 a.m. on Chirstmas morning, they're still a jerk, but at least they're a jerk who follows the law.

Other sounds are completely forbidden. Unnecessary motor noises like revving engines or constant honking and persistent noise from animals such as barking or squawking are just a few examples.

Toronto's Municipal Code also states that for all other scenarios, "No person shall make, cause or permit noise, at any time, that is unreasonable noise and persistent noise."

So even though it means they'll surely hate you for it, if your neighbour has been singing off key for the past hour, it's within your legal rights to have them finally shut up.

Of course, noise exemption permits can be obtained for situations such as concerts or other events with loud music, or construction outside of normal hours.

Part of the trouble of living in the city is how noisy it can be, so noise regulations are always something to keep in mind to protect yourself both from having to deal with head-splitting commotion and from having to deal with the awkward scenario of cops knocking on your door at midnight.

As the city opens up, there will be more people on the street which means those noisy nights won't be ending anytime soon. It's a sign of a living city, but always feels like a nightmare when it wakes you from a dead slumber.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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