Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Fall 2012, page 2

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Leaf-blowers where they should not be

By Alice Fedorenko

Having lived in Vancouver's West End for a couple of decades, I was hugely thankful when several years ago the City of Vancouver (CoV) finally passed the by-law prohibiting the use of all leaf-blowers in this very densely populated area.

Leaf-blowers are not permitted to be used in the area of the city bounded by Burrard Street on the East, Stanley Park on the west, Georgia Street on the north and Beach Avenue on the south.

The Right to Quiet Society was a major player in pushing for this by-law and we felt that this was a strong step towards noise abatement in our city. The removal of the constant howling, shrieking and droning of leaf-blowers in the highly concentrated West End made a huge difference. However, not everyone complied. Some building managers and their hired gardeners kept on using the leaf-blowers.

On several occasions, I have approached these "howlers" and politely reminded them of the by-law. While some were polite, others ignored me or laughed off the by-law, and still others resorted to verbal abuse. One bully was extremely verbally abusive. He went to his truck, pulled out

a stack of by-laws and stuck them at me. All of these were old, outdated copies that did not mention the current by-law for the West End.

In early August 2012, I phoned the CoV "hot-line" 311, described my concern and was promptly connected to the right department. I left a message describing the incident, the time of occurrence and the building address. A few days later the CoV officer, Mike Bidwell, contacted me. I asked if we could meet, as these "leaf-blower incidents" were becoming intense and even aggressive. He agreed and a few days later came over to my building. The officer heard me out, confirmed that the ban was in effect for this area, gave me several copies of the current by-law (so I could hand them out, if needed), and promised to contact the managers of the buildings whose addresses I noted down for him. The result was that, since his visit, I have had no "leaf-blowing" incidents.

I feel very reassured with the support I received from the CoV, and thanked for the prompt actions of the Officer Mike Bidwell. As a Property Use Inspector, he is very busy dealing with a wide variety of complaints ranging from construction noise to bed bugs. But he was very approachable and truly helpful. Thank you Mike and thank you city of Vancouver for your hot-line 311. It really works well!

Loud Music and more alcohol consume

By Daily Mail Reporter

If you want to drink less, then turn down the music: alcohol tastes sweeter as noise impairs judgement of intake.

Alcohol tastes sweeter when loud music is playing and the noise could make it difficult for drinkers to judge how much they are consuming, new research has claimed. Dr. Lorenzo Stafford, a psychologist from the University of Ports-mouth, conducted the first experimental study to find out how music can alter the taste of alcohol. Dr Stafford said: "Since humans have an innate preference for sweetness, these findings offer a plausible explanation as to why people consume more alcohol in noisy environments."

The expert said the research was a small-scale study, but claimed it had huge implications for those who drink alcohol in noisy environments. "It also has implications for bars, the drinks industry and local authorities," he explained. A minimum price is only part of the solution for reducing our dependency on alcohol. The research has built on earlier observational research which found that people drank more alcohol and at a faster rate, if loud music was playing.

In Dr. Stafford's study, 80 participants (69 females and 11 males aged between 18 and 28 and regular drinkers) had to rate a selection of drinks varying in alcohol content on the basis of alcohol strength, sweetness and bitterness.

They were given one of four different levels of distraction, from no distraction to loud club-type music playing at the same time as reading a news report.

The tests found that drinks were rated significantly sweeter overall when participants were listening to music alone. "The study found that sweetness perception of alcohol was significantly higher in the music compared to control and other distracting conditions, which is a novel finding and to our knowledge, not seen previously," Dr. Stafford added.

"This is an interesting finding as we might have expected the music, in addition to repeating a news story, to exert a more distracting effect on taste judgment. It appears that our primary sense of taste is somewhat immune to very distracting conditions, but is indeed influenced by music alone."

"Researching multi-sensory perception is a growing field of study and an interesting area to explore. Although individuals might well expect to consume more alcohol in club type environments anyway, it is important they understand how environment can potentially influence over-consumption and act accordingly."

The findings are published in the journal Food Quality and Preference and the research was funded by Alcohol Research UK - a charity which aims to increase understanding of the harmful effects of alcohol.

KOKORO Japanese Restaurant, 1442 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver, played no music, just a mute TV set,when we dined there on July 10, 2012.

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