What's all the noise? A ward-by-ward breakdown of noise complaints in Ottawa
When it comes to noise, nobody can escape it. Whether it’s from construction or your neighbour mowing the lawn before dawn, there’s a constant roar in the city.
But for some residents, the noise is worse than others. Data obtained from 311 logs show Rideau-Vanier is the noisiest ward in the capital, with more than 7,500 complaints filed in the last three years.
Mathieu Fleury, the councilor for Rideau-Vanier, said his ward is busy, not noisy.
“We have the ByWard Market, we have the University of Ottawa, the fifth biggest in the country, so the effect of near-campus residences is bound to have an impact on our noise level, on our parking on our graffiti,” Fleury said.
Rideau-Vanier topped the list for the noisiest ward’s in the city from 2012 to 2014, with more than 2,200 complaints filed each year. The downtown ward, followed by Somerset Ward with 4,732 complaints over the last three years, Capital Ward with 2,605 and River ward with 2,060.
As calls continue to come in, Fleury said it may be time for city council to look at how noise complaints are handled.
“We are very high, and when you start considering the cost per call, you start saying we have to find a way to address those challenges better. Can the city do it better? Can we offer a different response? Can we do it differently,” Fleury said.
Nearly every riding in the last year saw a decline in call volumes for noise complaints, a sign some of the city’s preventative and education campaigns are working.
Although there are thousands of calls every year, bylaw officers laid only 665 fines and summonses to court in 2014.
“It’s not always a charge on the first offence. It’s education through enforcement as well,” said Roger Chapman, the Bylaw Chief for the City of Ottawa.
“We often talk to property owners, given them verbal warnings, then formal warnings. If it continues, then we issue a charge.”
Bylaw officers are responsible for responding to 311 calls, and laying fines when warranted. Noise complaints, as started on the City of Ottawa’s website, range from loud music registering more than 50 decibels if played before 11 p.m., to operating construction vehicles or equipment between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday and operating musical instruments that disturb others between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday.
“The most popular noise complaints we deal with are loud music, early construction noise, as well as mechanical noise such as air conditioners or heaters,” said Chapman.
When it comes to loud music, bylaw officers often use a device called a noise meter to measure noise in the area. It doesn’t take wind or ambient noise into consideration, meaning the readings are sometimes inaccurate. In those cases, Bylaw uses a special formula to calculate the decibel level or determines themselves through an investigation whether the noise is “disturbing to others.”
A full list of noise complaints can be found here:
Noise complaints by ward: