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Shore FM imposes its amplified noise on West End Residents

by Hans Schmid
September, 2010

The Vancouver radio station Shore 104.3 FM played loud, amplified "music" on two stages on Sunset Beach this summer, perhaps as a "prelude" to the equally noisy (and smoky) fireworks competition, disturbing and annoying numerous West End residents within earshot. Supposedly, B.C. Hydro and KalTire were sponsors of these noisy events, which would demonstrate their disregard for a healthy, quiet neighbourhood. Mr. Hennessy of Shore 104 responded to a complaint of a resident. Here is part of it:

"We are endeavouring to produce an event that will add enjoyment to the lives of thousands of Vancouverites in a manner that entertains while abiding by the guidelines established by the city. From what I have seen so far today, that is exactly what we have accomplished. We apologize to Ms. X if she feels we have violated her rights and assure her that we are working to respect her rights while creating an event on a holiday weekend, to make life in Vancouver more pleasurable for many thousands of others. We seek an acceptable balance."

Mr. Hennessy's flattering words contain a "hidden" message, which is explained in a reply to him by the President of the Right to Quiet Society.

Dear Mr. Hennessy,

Thank you very much for including us in your recent mailing to Ms. X, the Mayor and Councillors and others, regarding loud music. Allow me to respond to the points you made in your message and offer my opinion on them. I assume Shore 104 FM had a permit from the City of Vancouver to stage the mentioned musical event with amplified sound, up to the limits set out either in the noise-control bylaw or a special permit Shore 104 FM may have received from Mayor Robertson.

I don't know if, indeed, the City's noise inspectors went out to monitor the sound/noise levels emanating from that event. Even if they did, that would not have made them any quieter or more acceptable to residents living within earshot and having that noise imposed on them. Of course, if the sound levels stayed within the legal limits, you are not legally liable, respectively didn't violate any pertinent law. That will very certainly be good enough to wash your hands in innocence. In all likelyhood it will also be good enough for our city authorities to have acted within the law, and the case is closed.

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The interesting part of your message is that you stated reasons for staging this noisy event to justify it, in spite of being sure there was no violation of the noise-control bylaw. It is this particular part of the issue where Shore 104 FM is not quite as innocent as you may want to make it appear. The thousands of people for whom you may have made life more pleasurable are, of course, not the only ones to hear the "music." I deliberately put "music" in quotation marks, because it is a very subjective term. Even if those thousands of people had all been from the adjacent neighbourhood, I would argue that this is no true justification to impose that noise on all the other residents within earshot, regardless if they cared for it or not. Also, by giving reason for the noisy event, I suppose you tried to say that Shore 104 FM (possibly others as well) want to be socially responsible and provide a social service with the loudly amplified "music." That should be greatly appreciated were it done in such a way that you would strictly target those who want to hear it and not disturb the rest of the residents and visitors who don't want to hear it and get it imposed on them.

In such circumstances, it doesn't matter at all how many decibels the sound measures at a point of reception. When it is unwanted, respectively imposed, it is no longer the service you may have intended to provide. Had you made the proper effort to do a survey of the affected neighbourhood to find out just who is in favour and who is opposed, you might have found that this event wasn't desired by a majority. One can thus specualte that your true motivation was certainly not as altruistic as you may wish people to believe.

If with its corporate social responsibility Shore 104 FM ignores those who prefer to not have your choice of "music" imposed on them, regardless of loudness or time of day or night, that responsibility is quite the opposite of what it may have been intended to be. This criticism is, of course, not exclusively pointed at Shore 104 FM but, equally, at all responsible parties involved, above all our civic authorities in the power to allow or disallow that noise.

I, along with many West End residents, hope that this situation will improve in the future.


Hans Schmid
President Right to Quiet Society

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