noise radar toronto

Toronto wants to use noise radar to clamp down on loud vehicles

White noise like streetcar rails grinding and bike bells ringing are just part of life in the big city, but just about everyone in Toronto has been jolted awake at least once by a speeding car gunning down their street at absurd hours of the night.

The issue of excessive vehicle noise was brought to City Council last week with a member motion — recommended by Councillor Ana Bailao and seconded by Councillor Frances Nunziata — seeking to implement an automated "noise radar" system that would help bring the hammer down on these inconsiderate drivers.

Sounds fancy, but how does it actually work?

Such systems would be installed in quiet, residential neighbourhoods, using microphones programmed to respond to a specific decibel level, activating closed-circuit television cameras that capture license plates.

Once the system identifies a license plate number in the frame, fines or tickets would automatically be issued to the driver for violating noise by-laws.

The idea is very similar to the red-light cameras already operating at intersections across Toronto, just swapping the triggering mechanism from street lights to noise levels.

The motion was adopted by a show of hands at Council, moving forward with the direction for multiple city services to report back in early 2022 on the feasibility of noise radar and outlining what amendments to provincial legislation would be needed for the plan to go through.

This isn't the first move to cut down on excessive vehicle noise at night. This past summer, a joint program conducted by Toronto Police and City by-law enforcement officers targeted drivers tearing through residential neighbourhoods at night.

Of course, having officers in the field pursuing speeding offenders is not the best use of resources, and automated solutions have the potential to fill this gap.

Such systems have already been successfully rolled out elsewhere, with a 2019 pilot project in Paris leading to the technology being adopted by other French municipalities.

There could be issues with the relatively new technology, already demonstrated right here in Canada.

Photos captured by red-light cameras are almost impossible to dispute, showing the offending vehicle mid-intersection on a red light.

Photos cued by noise levels aren't as concrete in determining which vehicle in the frame is the offender, as has been the case in Edmonton, where a similar pilot project in 2018 didn't quite pan out as expected.

Lead photo by

Kevin Cabral

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