Who are you going to call? For noise complaints, mostly the police

Who are you going to call? For noise complaints, mostly the police - image

The neighbours’ stereo is pounding, midnight has come and gone, you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it any more.

Who are you going to call? Mostly, after 6pm or so, Toronto residents pass up the chance to talk to the helpful folks at the 311 line – the municipal one-stop-shop service for a range of issues from potholes to parking – and just call the police, hoping to bring an abrupt and (from one point of view) satisfying end to the party.

Between 11pm and midnight, Toronto police are asked to shut down a noise problem about once every ten minutes. (To police dispatchers, it’s a ‘priority 4,’ the same as: a located missing child, a fight, indecent exposure, a fail-to-remain accident, a stolen vehicle or ‘strike trouble’.)

Perhaps understandably, a long list of emergencies can take priority: assaults in progress, a building collapse, an explosion, a holdup, a homicide, a hostage-taking, and on through the dispatcher’s alphabetic list of misfortunes (from ‘abduction’ to ‘wounding’).

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Noise, however, wasn’t the main concern of Toronto residents calling 311. Overwhelmingly, people wanted to talk about garbage: collection on both main streets and residential streets. And the calls tail off but never really stop – every week or so, on average, someone calls 311 between 4am and 5am about something categorized as ‘general pruning.’
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The data was obtained from the Toronto police and the City of Toronto through access-to-information laws.

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