Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2006 - page 3

!! Vancouver Police Department revamps emergency phones !!

While a noisy neighbour is annoying, it doesn’t warrant a call to 911. Instead of tying up the emergency line with reports of past crimes and nuisances, Vancouver Police want you to call 604-717-3321, their new non-emergency line.

The new number is still serviced by E-COMM, which currently services both the Vancouver Police Department and the Greater Vancouver Regional District 911 system. Police say 80 per cent of calls to the new line will be answered within 3 minutes.

There have been waits for calls coming in about emergency situations because the 911 system is plugged with non-emergency calls, said VPD Inspector Jess Rams. “If we can receive 911 calls faster, that will downstream into a better response at the other end,” he said.

You can also report crimes on the VPD website at < www.vpd.ca                      - 24 hours

Acoustic scarecrow menace

For years now residents in the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and perhaps a few other areas in this province became evermore subjected to the loud blasts from propane cannons used to scare away ravaging birds, primarily starlings. A year ago there were reports that fruit farmers in Washington state wanted British Columbia authorities to join them in an eradication programme to reduce or rid the border region of those “pests”, instead of merely frightening them away.

Randy Boswell further wrote in The Vancouver Sun that protective netting around crops is considered too costly and impractical. But the use of “audible bird-scare devices”, principally propane cannons that automatically make loud blasts every few minutes, is recommended and widely used by blueberry, cherry and grape growers in southern B.C.

This approach produced a deluge of noise complaints from neighbours, but a provincial spokesman said B.C. has no plans to begin widespread killing of starlings. To claims that the scared-away birds flee over the border into Washington state, one B.C. agriculture official stated that the notion of starlings being scared southward is a pure flight of fancy. Starlings scared from blueberry fields in the Fraser Valley are going to other unprotected fields in the Fraser Valley.

From a recent article in a German newspaper we learn that the legal situation regarding noisy bird-scare devices there is a bit different. Please read the translation following:

KOBLENZ, Germany - Two residents from Volxheim have sued in court in Koblenz and won against the use of noisy gadgets for scaring voracious birds away from vineyards. The permit for the “shout and shoot” devices by the municipality of Bad Kreuznach is unlawful, the court ruled. The municipality has not sufficiently clarified if the birds could also have been scared away with other means, less disturbing to the residents (file #: 1 K 1213/05.KO). The plaintiffs found their peace disturbed by the 20 noise-machines. The devices simulate shots and play, amongst other sounds, the cries of attacking birds of prey.

The municipality of Bad Kreuznach allowed the installation of those gadgets to prevent the vineyards from being ravaged by starlings. The court explained, however, that it was not proven if the grapes could not have been equally protected with nets or infrared-guided implements. In addition, the municipality failed to determine how the nearby residents were to be protected from the noise.

The plaintiffs spoke of an “acoustic torture”. Around the time when the grapes were ripening people living on the outskirts of town had to suffer continuous subjection to noise. A representative of the municipality countered that other means to fend off the starlings would be out of question. The cost to protect the vineyards from the birds with nets would be much too high.

According to the State Emission-Protection Act, the use of acoustic devices is allowed only when alternative means are ineffective.

- Darmstaedter Echo

Noisy alternatives

After the City of Vancouver banned the use of gasoline-powered leafblowers from the densely populated West End, a growing number of people have turned to other noisy ways of cleaning up, reported The Vancouver Courier. The director of environmental health said that complaints about power washers are up since the prohibition was passed. “When you enforce other bylaws you get used to the fact people find ways of skirting the bylaw or being technically in compliance but still creating a noise problem,” he said.


Pressure washers are not prohibited, although they are covered by noise restrictions. If city staff receive complaints, the report states, they take noise readings to determine if the maximum limit is exceeded. The new bylaw created an initial flurry of complaints about continuing use of leafblowers. Most cases were resolved except for one that was going forward to prosecution. No details are available to date.

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