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Calgary city councillor tables motion to address excessive vehicle noise

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Calgary city councillor tables motion to address excessive vehicle noise
WATCH ABOVE: A motion to address loud vehicle noise by improving enforcement has cleared its first hurdle at Calgary City Hall. The motion from Ward 8 councillor Courtney Walcott comes following complaints from residents across the city. Adam MacVicar reports. – Sep 29, 2022

Excessive noise from vehicles, particularly in the downtown core, isn’t a new issue in Calgary; but one that Ward 8 councillor Courtney Walcott feels can be addressed.

Walcott, with a co-sign from Ward 13 councillor Dan McLean, has tabled a motion that calls on city administration to revamp fines and penalties related to vehicle noise in an effort to improve enforcement.

“This is Step 1 of a series of steps that we have to do to get there, but this is the first time we’ve ever been able to actually make that first step,” Walcott said.

According to Walcott, the issue comes down to challenges with enforcement.

The City of Calgary has a provision in its traffic bylaw that limits vehicle noise to 96 decibels. The enforcement of that rule is the responsibility of both city bylaw officers and the Calgary Police Service. However, who is able to enforce the rule depends on whether the vehicle is on public or private property and if the vehicle is stationary.

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Read more: City of Calgary looking at ways to address loud vehicles after Beltline concerns raised

Community peace officers can’t enforce the bylaw with moving vehicles because that would require a traffic stop, Walcott said.

However, bylaw officers are set to get increased authority starting in 2023, including the ability to conduct traffic stops, as long as they receive the training required.

“We’ve got the job, now we just have to start orientation to actually be able to do that if we get permission from the province and CPS,” Walcott said.

The Beltline Neighbourhoods Association’s Natalie Sit said noise is a “part of living in a vibrant neighbourhood,” but the issue around excessive noise from loud exhausts and motorcycles has intensified.

“I’ve lived in the Beltline for almost 15 years and it seems like it’s getting worse every year,” she said.

“We’d like to see some enforcement.”

Business owners are also expressing their concerns with not just the noise from the vehicles, but also their conduct on the road.

“To really get that big loud bang or that rumble, they’re just accelerating,” Bamboo Ballroom owner Stacey Shelley told Global News.

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“I think it’s dangerous on top of the noise being too much.”

Both Sit and Shelley said complaints to different community associations and business organizations have gone unanswered.

Read more: ‘Excessive speeders and obnoxious noise’: Edmonton police crack down on roadways

Walcott’s motion, which was heard by Calgary’s executive committee on Thursday, also calls for a pilot project between local bylaw officers and CPS.

The Ward 8 councillor said the vision of the motion is not an overall “crackdown” on noise, but rather opens the door for targeted campaigns in areas with excessive noise and complaints from residents — like in the Beltline.

“If you’re hearing noise in certain problem areas, we can run very specific campaigns to address some of these issues that we just couldn’t before,” Walcott said.

“Truth be told, is this an issue we want our CPS officers spending time on? I wouldn’t say so.”

Walcott said the plan would need co-operation from CPS, and also asks administration to look into potential budget requirements for staffing, training and equipment.

Committee voted unanimously to send Walcott’s motion to city council as a whole for a debate and final approval.

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