Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2006 - page 2

Three typical examples of bad noise management

 In Esquimalt: A noisy, smelly diesel generator was moved away from a residence adjacent to a construction site ONLY after some drastic action (climbing on a crane) by one resident, NOT after several requests to move it. The resident was arrested, locked for a few hours in a cell and charged with mischief and unlawfully being on construction equipment. The developer, perhaps begrudgingly, agreed to have the generator moved. Residents from that low-income facility, operated by the Salvation Army, have tried for a week to get the machine moved by calling the municipal office and speaking to the construction crew.

A police official reportedly said it was an “overreaction”, which put that resident and emergency crews at unnecessary risk, and that there would be far more diplomatic ways to deal with such disputes. We would argue that ONLY this “overreaction” put an end to the stubborn “underreaction” (i.e. no reaction) of the authorities, the developer and the construction company to the problem they could have avoided in the first place.

In Saanich: A ticket for just one single incidence of garbage pickup outside allowed hours by Waste Management was issued by the municipal bylaw enforcement officer (MBEO) ONLY after a forceful letter of complaint to the District Council.

Previous letters by one of our members to the MBEO and three requests to the Waste Management firm to stop the noisy activity outside legally permitted hours were ignored. In a note to the complainant the MBEO alluded to a discussion between them, which had never occurred. That violation was allowed to go on for several months without any action.


In Burnaby: Council allowed performances with amplified music in a public park, surrounded by residential areas. It began with a few concerts each summer which were tolerated, even supported. Then, a series of very noisy rock-music concerts was added, by far exceeding the maximum 55 dBA limit allowed in Burnaby’s noise bylaw.

One resident, with the support of others, is suing the city for not complying with that 55 dBA limit. A B.C. Supreme Court judge agreed the resident’s case could go ahead. The hearing was scheduled for July 16, 2007. However, a request for an interim injunction was turned down, and six rock concerts planned for this summer will not be cancelled.

Meanwhile, Burnaby Council, in its meeting on March 6th, moved to amend the noise bylaw to exempt such noisy concerts. If that motion stands, the city can no longer be found guilty of violating its own bylaw in the future. Ironically, the City of Burnaby is one of the few that issued a proclamation of International Noise Awareness Day in past years. One of the arguments by the approving councillors and the mayor is that they need the revenues generated from these noisy concerts to subsidise other cultural events and programmes.

These examples show that the prevention and abatement of noise is still lagging far behind most other issues of health and quality of life. Information that we frequently receive from many parts of the world confirms that this matter is not limited to just a few areas. It is a global problem that far to few people recognise, and still fewer are willing or able to tackle. We renew our call for ALL to speak out, become involved and take action!

Sudden death from noise

A disorder of the heart's electrical system, known as the Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), is a life-threatening disorder that can be triggered by a loud noise. In people with LQTS, the electrical recovery of their heart takes longer than normal after each heart beat.

Dr. G. Michael Vincent, an expert in LQTS, says this prolongation "renders patients vulnerable to a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm. . . no blood is pumped out from the heart, and the brain quickly becomes deprived of blood, causing the usual symptoms of sudden loss of consciousness (syncope) and sudden death."

Acoustic stress – such as awakening because of a loud noise – can trigger an episode. Vincent notes that "symptoms usually occur during physical exertion or emotional excitement like anger, fear, or startle." Common examples of startle events include sudden noise, like sirens, the telephone, and the alarm clock.

LQTS is estimated to cause as many as 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year – mostly in children and young adults – says Vincent, who founded the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation (www.sads.org).

Silencing cell phones

By Michael Kesterson

“The intrusion of cellular phone rings into theatres, schools and nearly every other nook and cranny of modern life may soon hit a wall,” writes Jon Van in the Chicago Tribune. Playing to the backlash against ubiquitous communication, a company called NaturalNano is developing a special high-tech paint that relies on the wizardry of nanotechnology to create a system that locks out unwanted cell-phone signals on demand. The paint presents a dream to those who seek a distraction-free movie or concert experience, and a nightmare to those who compulsively monitor their BlackBerry phones.

 - The Globe and Mail

Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
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