Report on Vancouver's 5th International Noise Awareness Day

A record number of volunteers answered our call this past April 12, International Noise Awareness Day, and rallied on a beautiful day near the Vancouver Public Library to distribute some 1,200 Right to Quiet Society pamphlets to an encouragingly receptive public. Reporter Ethan Faber's coverage of our INAD event was aired on VTV's 5, 6, and 11 p.m. news broadcasts. Thank you so much to all who contributed their efforts to make the day such a success!

Director George Jameson contacted 30 BC Municipalities requesting proclamations of INAD, resulting in the issue of 15 proclamations. He also issued a press release to 43 media outlets. The resulting media attention was greater than in past years, with our President, Hans Schmid, giving informative interviews to radio stations CBC, CKNW, and News 1130. In his interviews, Hans accentuated the recent research which indicates that a noisy environment erodes health, causing higher blood-pressure, increased stress hormone levels in the urine, and even immune suppression. It appears that these detrimental health effects may occur whether or not the person is consciously bothered by the noise.

The Vancouver Courier and the Westender published articles featuring our concerns. CBC radio featured an open-line show on the subject of "What noises bug you the most?" from 1 to 2 p.m. on INAD, and the response was so overwhelming they are considering a second show on the topic.

As part of our letter campaign, George wrote to Ministers of Health, Environment and Education of our 10 Provinces, 3 Territories and the Federal Government, including Prime Minister Jean Chretien. We also wrote United States President Bill Clinton and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Replies to date: the Federal Minister of Health, Allan Rock, one Minister from Saskatchewan and one from Nova Scotia, and the first ever reply from the UN.

Media coverage of the noise problem continued when the Westender's July 27, 2000 issue featured noise as its cover story, giving a two-page spread to the subject. The frustration of many residents in that hotbed of noise pollution was apparent. As population density increases, it is clear that more and more people are becoming painfully aware of the havoc a few can wreak with their selfish use of noisemaking technology.

On December 20, 1954...
"Mr. Justice J.O. Wilson ordered the sheriff to have loud-speaker renditions of Christmas carols wafting into the New Westminster courtroom today from Columbia street halted."
-The Vancouver Sun, City Limits, December 20, 1999

Misappropriation of the Public Soundscape

During the weeks leading up to last Christmas, some of our members were particularly upset that the Kerrisdale Merchants' Association attached speakers to public lamp standards and broadcast muzak onto the sidewalk along both sides of 41st Avenue. The noise even continued well after many shops had closed for the evening.

In spite of the recommendation in the 1997 City Noise Task Force Report that the bylaw prohibiting broadcasting onto public streets continue to be "strongly enforced", complaints to City Hall proved futile, and the speakers remain perched on public property to this day. Presumably, the muzak will start again this December, and any members who object to the further erosion of the public soundscape in this way are encouraged to contact the City's Environmental Health Department at 736-2866 to voice their complaint.

If we don't counteract this assault on the soundscape, who will?

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall 2000

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