Calgary wants to tackle noisy vehicle concerns but not until next year

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Calgary wants to tackle noisy vehicle concerns but not until next year
City of Calgary officials have brought forward a work plan aimed at addressing noisy vehicles through a pilot project. As Adam MacVicar reports, there have been more than 1,500 complaints to the city about loud cars and motorcycles over the last five years. – May 31, 2023

It’s a familiar summer sound in Calgary — loud cars and motorcycles revving their engines — but the city’s plan to address the noise isn’t expected until sometime next year.

The City of Calgary said it’s received 1,543 complaints on the 311 line about excessive vehicle noise across the city over the last five years.

According to city data, there were complaints coming from every ward in the city, but none more than the inner city areas in Wards 7 and 8.

A breakdown of 311 complaints for excessive vehicle noise in Calgary over the last five years. Global News
A breakdown of excessive vehicle noise complaints to 311 by ward in Calgary. Global News

One of the notoriously noisy areas is along 17 Avenue, where Kelly Mandeville has lived for nearly 14 years.

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“It’s widely adopted that it’s too noisy here between April and September,” she said. “All day and all night you can hear loud motorcycles and loud mufflers from cars.  I’ve seen accidents, I’ve watched people lose control of their motorcycles.”

However, not everyone who spoke with Global News said they were frustrated with the summer street sounds in the Beltline.

“I just love cars, loud cars, fast cars, it’s awesome,” Harry Anstead told Global News. “I love walking down here and seeing Ferraris, Lambos, it’s awesome.”

On Wednesday, city administration brought forward a work plan and pilot project proposal aimed at improving enforcement of excessively loud vehicles to the city’s Community Development Committee.

Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said he had hoped the city could develop a pilot program for this summer.

“I think anyone who was looking forward to this, myself included, is going to be a little disappointed by the timeline,” Walcott said. “When we tasked the organization to do this work, we found out how much work it is to task up, train up, staff and get all of the different equipment that’s going to be required to do this work, including the permissions from the province and CPS.”

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However, the city administration noted there are challenges with enforcing existing bylaws because bylaw officers can’t conduct traffic stops to enforce Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act.

Calgary police have issued more than 1,000 tickets over the last five years, but most of those tickets were for stunting and not necessarily the noise nuisance.

“If you’re spinning your tires, revving your engine, or fishtailing, there’s other offences officers tend to use,” said Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld. “I think the discussion around how we might work with bylaw around the enforcement of the noise bylaw would be contingent of looking at ways to make the bylaw more enforceable.”

City administration is proposing amendments to existing bylaws, and hiring eight new peace officers and one sergeant to create an enforcement team that would specialize in vehicle noise during the warmer months, and be redeployed elsewhere outside of peak months.

The proposal would require permissions from both the province and Calgary police to allow bylaw officers to conduct traffic stops, which would also mean more training for those officers.

Similar programs are in effect in Edmonton and Red Deer with agreements that allow peace officers to conduct traffic stops in collaboration with local police services.

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“The moment someone goes beyond making noise to driving unsafe: police intervention,” Walcott said. “I think it’s a tall task to ask police officers to be stopping people for the nuisance of the noise, but I think that’s a very different conversation we could have with peace officers.”

Some councillors, including Sonya Sharp and Dan McLean, raised concerns over costs and potential risks for local peace officers.

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot was the only committee member to vote against the recommendations from the administration, which will now go to city council for final approval.

If the proposal gets approval, administration expects to be able to begin the pilot project sometime next year.

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