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Fall Newsletter (CCAN)
| NoiseWatch - Fall 1997 - Volume 2 / Issue 2 |
| Citizens' Coalition Against Noise (CCAN) - Toronto |
(1) Music - The New Addiction
(2) Results of secret test flights questionable
(3) Noise Awareness Day
(4) Poster Campaign
(5) "Gripe" Cards
(6) Annual General Meeting
(7) Noisy Product of the Month
(1) Music: The new addiction - by Peter Donnelly
[Peter Donnelly is president of the Right to Quiet Society in
Vancouver. This essay was first published in the Victoria Times-Columnist
and is reprinted by permission of the author.]
The last time my son and I went skating at a local arena, the hard rock
music was so loud that in order to talk to one another we had to put mouth
to ear. When I finally asked one of the attendants if the music could be
turned down, he looked at me with a puzzled expression and said: "What
music?" I am not making this up.
Music has become such a pervasive part of our lives that most people
don't even notice it. It's no longer there to be enjoyed - it's there to
feed an addiction. Have you seen a hockey game lately? Every pause in
the action is filled with recorded music. Even the moment of final
victory, with the Stanley Cup held high, is underlined by the pounding
rhythms of rock and roll, as if the cheers of the hometown fans weren't
enough to define the moment. Baseball too - once the game of silences -
is being punctuated by pop tunes between every batter, sometimes between
When was the last time you were in a restaurant, a pub, a mall, a
retail store, a health club, or a swimming pool and were allowed to enjoy
the ambient sounds of the place, or quiet conversation with a companion,
or the music of your own thoughts, without the clamor of a radio station
in the background? They're starting to feed it to passersby as well.
These days it seems that part of the standard equipment for a new shop or
restaurant is a set of speakers mounted above the front door, broadcasting
the entertainment onto the sidewalk. I suppose it's seen as a sort of
The fact is that music - usually loud and often tuneless - has become
an inescapable presence in virtually every place of public assembly. The
assumption seems to be that people can't enjoy themselves without some
kind of acoustical stimulation. For many people, unfortunately, that just
might be true. But for those who prefer quiet, or just normal people
sounds, the world has become a hostile place.
No matter where you go on earth it is now virtually impossible to find
the kind of stillness that was commonplace a century or two ago. Much of
this noise, it's true, is a by-product of the machine age, but a great
deal of it is deliberately created for consumption. It has become a drug,
and our society is hooked on it. As with some other drugs, the more you
get, the more you need. The volume is increasing all the time. "Big
screen, big sound!" advertises a chain of movie theatres. "Play it loud!"
urges a maker of video game hardware. Boom cars proliferate. Nightclubs
are so loud that staff have to wear earplugs. Outdoor concerts can be
heard miles away. Why is it happening? In the past, loud noises and
music were for special occasions. They gave us a "kick." Now we want
every moment to be special. Like the drug addict, we want to be high all
the time. And like the addict, we no longer really enjoy the stimulus,
but without it we feel an intolerable emptiness. Don't get me wrong; I
believe firmly that people have the right to consume what they want. I'm
not down on anybody for using tobacco. But I don't want to inhale their
smoke. And I don't want to listen to other people's music. If I complain
I'm told: "Most people like it." Well, most people like coffee, and I
happen to be addicted to it, but I don't force it down anyone's throat.
If you walked down the street slapping the head of every person you
met, you'd quickly be arrested and put somewhere where you couldn't do
harm. Yet you can do the same thing in a boom car and get away with it.
What's the difference? Society has long recognized the right of the
individual to be free from assault. More recently, we've acknowledged the
right to clean air. Isn't it time we also recognized the right to quiet?
(2) Results of secret test flights questionable
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has recently come under
attack for conducting secret test flights at Pearson International Airport
during restricted night hours. During the six months test period, two
Chapter 3 jets were allowed to land at 5:15 and 5:45 a.m. Mondays through
Saturdays. Chapter 3 aircraft are normally prohibited from operating at
Pearson between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. According to GTAA president Louis
Turpen, the tests flights were conducted to measure residents' tolerance
levels to night flights, and the secrecy was necessary to ensure objective
results. Turpen is pleased that the Airport Authority received only 25
additional complaints during the test period. As a result, the GTAA is
working on a noise management agreement that would allow airlines to apply
for permission to schedule regular flights during restricted night hours.
Such an agreement could result in 500 to 1,000 jobs over the next two
years, Turpen claims, and add $30 million annually in economic benefits.
So far, the GTAA has earned an additional $220,000 in revenues from the
test flights. But critics say the Airport Authority's test results are
flawed, and the planned noise management agreement will result in
unacceptable night-time noise levels for residents.
Anti-noise groups assert that there is a wide discrepancy between the
number of test flights and the actual number of flights that would be
allowed under the planned agreement. Two additional night-time arrivals
will not create the projected 500 to 1,000 jobs or $30 million in economic
benefits. Critics also offer several explanations for the lack of
complaints. Among them:
Phase-shift. As a result of aircraft noise, residents may experience a
phase-shift from a deeper level of sleep to a lighter one. Such a person
would wake up feeling tired but without recollection of the noise or its
Battle-fatigue. Residents who have complained for months or years
without getting results will eventually tire of complaining. According to
the authority's own figures, an average of 58 aircraft use the airport
between midnight and 7 a.m. every night. Would battle-fatigued residents
really bother complaining about two additional flights?
Technological problems. The automated telephone system which registers
complaints has malfunctioned several times during the test period.
(3) Noise Awareness Day a success
We did it! This year's Noise Awareness Day was a success. On April
30, 1997 CCAN joined noisefighters around the world to observe the second
International Noise Awareness Day. Other Canadian groups participating
included the Right to Quiet Society in Vancouver and the Canadian
Association for Sound Ecology (CASE). Here's a summary of what happened.
In preparation for Noise Awareness Day we contacted 30 Southern Ontario
municipalities and requested that they proclaim the day. We're pleased to
report that 25, including all six Metro municipalities, decided to declare
April 30, 1997 Noise Awareness Day. We sent news releases to all major
media outlets, resulting in a feature article in the Toronto Star's Life
section, TV news coverage on Global News, seven nationwide interviews by
the CBC, an hour-long appearance on Talk 640, and a short newsclip on CHUM
We also printed 5,000 Noise Awareness Day flyers, 3,000 of which were
distributed before the event through various venues, including the public
library system. On the day of the event we met in the early afternoon in
front of Toronto's Eaton Centre, where we handed out the remaining 2,000
flyers, along with 2,000 earplugs, to pedestrians at the busy Yonge-Dundas
intersection. Afterwards, we proceeded to Toronto's City Hall for Mayor
Barbara Hall's public proclamation of Noise Awareness Day.
Overall, Noise Awareness Day was a great success, except that the media
coverage could have been even better on that day. When we released our
"gripe" cards in January the media interest was considerable; we think
that Noise Awareness day should have merited at least as much attention.
We're also disappointed that, despite being invited, no representative
of Toronto's noise by-law office attended Mayor Hall's proclamation.
We'd like to thank all of you who came downtown to lend a hand. Your
help was greatly appreciated.
-> Noise Awareness Day '98 announced
The third international Noise Awareness Day will be held on Wednesday,
April 29, 1998. Once again, we're planning a number of events for that
day. Watch for more details in the next issue of NoiseWatch.
(4) CCAN to kick off poster campaign in Metro schools
This Fall, CCAN, in co-operation with The Canadian Hearing Society,
will launch its Noise Hurts! poster campaign in Metro schools. The
campaign is modeled after a poster contest developed by The League for the
Hard of Hearing in New York and is open to students from kindergarten to
grade 12. As part of the campaign, students will be asked to submit a
poster that expresses some aspect of noise pollution. Posters have to be
submitted by March 1, 1998 and will be judged by a panel of artists,
educators, noise experts, and public officials. Winners will be announced
on Noise Awareness Day '98, and a selection of the best entries will be
displayed at a Toronto gallery. If your child would like to participate,
contact your child's teacher or call us at (416) 410-2236 for further
information and guidelines.
(5) Don't forget about our "gripe" cards
If you don't like background music in stores and restaurants, leave a
"gripe" card at the offending venue. We launched the cards, which come in
three varieties, last January to much media attention. The cards were
inspired by Pipedown, a successful, five-year old British campaign against
background (piped) music. We offer three cards with the following messages:
"Your LOUD music drove me out!", "Your music bothers me!", and "Thank you
for your Quiet Environment".
Call us at (416) 410-2236 to order a customized set of cards.
(6) Annual General Meeting
The Citizens' Coalition Against Noise would like to invite all members
to attend its first Annual General Meeting.
Guest Speaker: Margot Segor, Toronto Noise By-law Office
Please call us at (416) 410-2236 to confirm your attendance or if you have
Date: Thursday, Nov. 13, 1997
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Metro Toronto School Board
45 York Mills Rd., North York
Other meetings scheduled:
November 13, 1997
December 4, 1997
January 8, 1998
February 5, 1998
March 5, 1998
April 2, 1998
All members are welcome to attend our monthly meetings.
Please call (416) 410-2236 for more information.
(7) Noisy product of the month
What do you get when you combine a weedwhacker and in-line skates?
That's right: motorized rollerblades. Recently, an enterprising tinkerer
came up with a contraption that combines rollerblades, the motor of a
weedwhacker, and a tiny gas tank. The gadget is worn like normal in-line
skates, and, with the gas tank strapped to the calf, allows the wearer to
cruise along at speeds of up to 20 km/h. And yes, it's loud!
NoiseWatch is published twice a year by the
Citizens' Coalition Against Noise
65 Front St. W. Suite 0116 Box 35
Toronto ON M5J 1E6
Editor: Annette Feige
(c) 1997 Citizens' Coalition Against Noise
QUIET-LIST: Internet Mail List and Forum for discussion of Noise Pollution,
Soundscape Awareness, and the Right to Quiet. Email: "firstname.lastname@example.org"
To subscribe, email "email@example.com" with message "subscribe quiet-list".
For info, send message "info quiet-list" to same.
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