Sound Bites

Three Dead in Noise Dispute

September 18, 1997

According to the Canadian Press, the survivor of a shotgun massacre that killed three of his friends in July says a six-month grudge over rap music led to the killings.

Donny Oliveira was seriously wounded and his three soccer buddies died when a gunman blasted them at a campground outside Kitimat, on British Columbia's central coast, July 12.

In an interview from Kitimat, Oliveira said it all started in January with complaints from another man about rap music he and his friends played at the community gym thay all frequented. The problem escalated into physical confrontation in March. And there were death threats, including one the day of the shootings.

Oliveira said he and his friends didn't take them seriously until a pickup truck followed them into the campground the night of the shootings.

"We were just getting out of our car," he said. "We seen him coming but never thought anything. He came out of his truck, came round the truck and I seen the shotgun in his hand. He didn't say a word. As soon as he turned the corner he just started shooting."

Mark Teves and Michael Mauro, both 20, and David Nunes, 21, died in a hail of shotgun pellets. Oliveira was badly wounded.

Keven Vermette, a 42-year-old loner who disappeared from his home at a Kitimat motel the night of the shootings, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one of attempted murder. Despite a massive police search in the bush surrounding Kitimat, no trace of Vermette has been found.

Small Victory Against Loud Music

July 12, 1997

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Barry Manilow has agreed to donate $5,000 to an ear-disorder association to settle a suit by a judge who claimed a 1993 Manilow concert damaged his hearing. Philip Espinosa, a 44-year-old judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, said the loud music left him in ``miserable condition'' with a constant and permanent screeching in his ears. The donation went to the American Tinnitus Association.

Espinosa said he wanted to prevent other people from suffering similar injuries. ``Unfortunately in our society, large industries like the music business do not listen to you unless you file a lawsuit,'' he said.

Ah, the Mournful Beep of the Foghorn!

Excerpted from the Victoria BC Times-Colonist, June 12, 1997

When the Coast Guard replaced the Georgina Point foghorn on Galiano Island with a solar-powered electronic horn that sounded like a demented fax machine, they had to agree to a temporary reprieve after wails from residents almost drowned out the offending screeches.

Now the Coast Guard is considering removing the brass bell from the buoy at the entrance to Active Pass because it "costs too much." The bell is set in motion by the action of the waves.

Galiano residents must decide whether they want to pay up to $1,800 a year for the old foghorn or allow the Coast Guard to install a less ear-splitting version of the solar-powered horn. The old diesel-powered foghorn was more expensive to maintain.

The new foghorn went off every 17 seconds instead of every 55 and made it impossible to eat, sleep, or work, said a Galiano resident.

Noise Confusion Hurts Children

June 1997

Parents who hope to help their children adjust to the stress of everyday life may want to turn down the noise at home.

A Purdue University psychologist says children who come from highly noisy or chaotic households can experience delayed language skills and increased anxiety.

Theodore Wachs has studied environmental influences on early childhood development and helped create a questionnaire to help parents measure the level of "noise confusion" in their homes. Wachs says children need some quiet space at home and some sense of order. Otherwise they're more likely to have trouble adjusting to changing environments outside the home, such as daycare centres.

The effects can vary with the temperament and sex of a child, he says. "Those who have the most trouble . . . are boys who are intense, fussy, or negative."

Wachs recommends parents stop using the TV as a source of background noise and help their children establish a quiet place where they can retreat -- even if it's only a closet-sized space.

Airport Noise is Residents' Fault

Vancouver Sun, May 10, 1997

Richmond residents who bought homes under the flight path of the new third runway should have known what they were doing and can't now sue for damages, say documents filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court.

A suit against the Vancover International Airport Authority and the federal government was launched a month ago, with residents claiming they were entitled to compensation for the noise and nuisance of low-flying aircraft using the new runway. They want to initiate a class-action suit against the airport and federal government, claiming the government's environmental assessment review panel recommended that compensation be paid to the neighbourhood but was ignored.

This week the airport authority and the federal government filed a statement of defence that claimed there were no grounds for the court to allow a class-action suit on the matter. It said the creation of a third runway was a matter of public knowledge since 1946. As well, they said the operation of the runway was necessary to the economy of greater Vancouver and it enhanced property values in the area.

It said the plaintiffs contributed to the loss or damage by:

No date has been set for the matter to proceed to trial.

Noise Hinders Development

May 1997

Children who live in noisy areas have poorer reading skills than those in quieter areas, reports the New Scientist.

Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, suggest this is because they find it harder to recognize and understand human speech. A study of 58 children who lived under a New York City airport flight path compared them with 50 children from a quiet neighbourhood. As well as having more trouble reading, the children from the noisy environment had more trouble recognizing and understanding spoken words.

Quiet -- Shopping Zone

Editorial in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Jan. 22, 1997

Let's hear it... No, sorry, let's have a moment of silent appreciation for the Citizens' Coalition Against Noise in Toronto.

The group, founded in 1994 to do something about such nuisances as noisy neighbours and airplanes, is conducting a campaign against stores that are too loud.

"Noisy stores, with loud, so-called 'background' music, are an irritation and we're going to try and do something about it," says acting coalition president Ken Burford.

"Your loud music drove me out!" reads one card the group's 70 or so members are handing out. "I will not return until you turn the music down or off." A complimentary card is handed out at stores with "quiet ambience."

May we just say (sotto voce, to be sure), Bravo!

FAA Limits Tourist Flights over Grand Canyon

Likening noise levels in parts of the Grand Canyon to Times Square on New Year's Eve, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on December 31, 1996, announced steps to reduce the din from air tours over the canyon.

Under a new rule set by the Federal Aviation Administration, 80 percent of the air space over Grand Canyon National Park will be closed to commercial air tours, up from the current 40 percent.

The rule, which will take effect in May, sets dusk-to-dawn curfews for commercial sightseeing operations over the eastern end of the park. It also caps the number of commercial tour flights over the park at the 1996 level, estimated to be 80,000-90,000 flights. The FAA also issued a proposed rule to phase out use of noisier aircraft in the park by 2008 by using technologies for quieter aircraft.

Environmental groups said the rule did not go far enough to restore the "natural quiet" of the canyon called for in a law Congress passed in 1987.

A coalition of eight air tour companies said they will sue to block the rules.

Noise Kills

The Daily Mirror in August 1995 reported that in the previous six years at least 16 people in Britain were murdered or committed suicide because of noise. Among the victims:

Don't Come Near My Car!

From the Old Farmer's Almanac, 1996

If you're walking through a parking lot, try not to violate the "personal space" of a car equipped with a new talking car alarm. Instead of those monotonous wails that everyone now ignores, these devices shout, "YOU ARE TOO CLOSE TO THE VEHICLE; PLEASE MOVE AWAY!" at 127 decibels (a typical jet plane takes off at 100 decibels).

Big Award in Construction-Noise Suit

From the Vancouver Sun, November 27, 1996

A Vancouver recording studio has been awarded $1.8 million after it sued over the noise from construction next door of a residential high-rise.

Justice James Taylor found that City Tower Development Corp., Ledcor Industries Ltd., and LMT Construction Ltd. failed to take reasonable steps to avoid unreasonable levels of sound and debris from intruding in Pinewood Recording Studios....

The judge found the construction intruded into Pinewood's studio, disrupting recording sessions and causing the loss of productivity and reputation. He found the studio's gross income dropped to $953,000 in 1994 from $1.4 million the previous year.

Noisy Weight Room

From The Ring (University of Victoria), November 1, 1996

I am writing through you to the university public, having failed to get a result or a reply through the established channel of a suggestion box. My subject is the excessively loud radio in the McKinnon weight room (always) and the Gordon Head weight room (sometimes).

I understand that Athletics and Recreation Services break their own rule (that radios and stereos are not allowed) by virtue of a tacit contract with a certain radio station, which promotes the [university sports teams]. This is simply ordinary commercialization of the university and hardly worth mentioning, except to point out that the price is high -- music selected for volume, numbingly simple-minded "news", enthusiastic ads for useless products, and announcers who tend to confirm the theory that God created stupidity in order to give human beings an understanding of the infinite.

No. My concern is simply with the volume. I regularly wear earplugs, but even so, I am often driven out.

Some years ago the Faculty Association accepted free access to recreational facilities instead of a salary raise. If access is to be denied by making the facilities unbearable, I'd rather have the money, thanks.

John Greene
Department of French

Noise Complaints Jam N.Y. Hotline

October 1996

New Yorkers can't stand the noise any more. A telephone hotline set up to help police curb minor crime has received more complaints about noise than anything else. The toll-free 24-hour line opened two weeks ago as part of a campaign to stop so-called "quality of life" crimes, but 43% of the calls have been about noise from car alarms, loud music, roaring trucks, machinery and motorcycles.

Police say operators have logged 1279 calls with 545 complaints about noise and only 79 about panhandlers and 54 each about prostitutes and drinking in public.

Officials have attributed the lowest crime rate in decades to their quality-of-life strategy, which is based on the belief that many people who commit minor offences go on to perpetrate major crimes.

In establishing the non-emergency telephone line, police asked the public to report aggressive panhandlers, loiterers at automatic banking machines, illegal dumpers and the so-called "squeegee men" who approach cars at intersections and wash windscreens with squeegees in expectation of a tip.

Appeal in Jet Ski Case

October 17, 1996

San Juan County (Washington) has decided to launch an appeal against a court decision that struck down a ban on jet skis. The initial ban was appealed by Bombardier, Inc., the Montreal-based manufacturer of personal watercraft.

"We will be appealing to the state's Supreme Court," said Rhea Miller, chair of the San Juan County board of commissioners. "We believe this is a serious problem, and we want to move with all haste to appeal."

The case will be heard in about six months. In the meantime, the area is open to jet skis.

No Getting Away from Cell-heads

From a Wall Street Journal article (October 1996) about the growing problem of cell phones in the wilderness:

Some nature lovers say cell-heads spoil the wilderness experience. "You hear them say things like, 'Honey, you wouldn't believe how silent it is up here'," says Jed Williamson, an outdoors guide and past president of the American Alpine Club. "It's as bad as if they were standing there taking a leak in front of everybody. They should just go behind a rock."

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