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Excessive Vehicular Noise

One complaint my office continually receives is that of excessive vehicular noise on and around the Don Valley Parkway, Don Mills Road, and Lawrence Avenue East.  Having recently moved into the area, I can attest to this almost nightly disturbance.

What I thought should be an easy problem to address has proven anything but!  I had assumed that the core issue was motorcycle racing on the Don Valley Parkway and using the fairly unique “cloverleaf” exit at Lawrence as part of the “racetrack”.  Although I knew that stopping speeding motorcycles is extremely difficult (many will speed off and police generally aren’t allowed to give chase due to the high probability of motorcyclist injury or death), I assumed that police could use the exit itself to help stop offenders. 

Essentially, all that was needed was coordinated enforcement.

As it turns out, there are a myriad of issues currently preventing a satisfactory outcome to this important quality of life issue.

The first problem is the City bylaw. It’s outdated and only prescribes measurement of noise while a motorcycle is idle and under strict conditions. Unfortunately, as we all know, the modified mufflers in use only get noisy when the engine is “revving.”
To complicate matters, our Municipal Licensing Officers (MLS) don’t have the authority to stop vehicles, so any enforcement must be done in conjunction with Toronto Police Service (TPS) -- limiting the City’s ability to provide regular enforcement.  In 2022, MLS and TPS did several blitzes (including the DVP and Lawrence) but only four charges resulted from the 28 inspections. The number of blitzes was severely reduced from 2021 due to lack of police resources.

The noise bylaw itself is problematic in that it only covers motorcycles whereas TPS advises that more than half of the noise issues stem from cars with modified muffler systems. Aftermarket muffler systems can program the noise level which adds a layer of additional complexity to enforcement activities (check out this video).

The use of new technology piloted in Edmonton allows officers to point a “noise gun” at vehicles and take a noise measurement and picture of the offending license plate.  While this is an encouraging development, more work needs to be done due to the legal requirements of “burden of proof”.  And, of course, this new technology would require obtaining the necessary permissions from the Province.

On the good news front, City Council will have the opportunity to update the noise bylaw this November to include all motor vehicles and add more scenarios under which noise can be measured. 

While there is no quick fix, I will keep working to make improvements to reduce noise levels so that we can enjoy a quieter community.

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