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Designing a quieter city

How loud is too loud for a busy city? Readers complain about the ever-increasing background noise in Toronto, including the menace of leaf blowers and lawn mowers, oversized car mufflers, too-loud sound tracks in restaurants, and music from outdoor concerts that spills into residential neighbourhoods. (Image: Dreamstime). I read that Mayor John Tory was considering a ban or a way to reduce and eliminate unacceptable noise coming from some automobiles’ oversized special mufflers. How about prohibiting noisy leaf blowers and lawn mowers in use by gardeners at weird hours of the day and on Sundays? California has a bylaw prohibiting their use, so people there use quieter devices. Banning them would encourage manufacturers to make quieter machines. J. Edward Detoro, Richmond Hill Your editorial neatly sums up the important issue of the negative health effects of noise pollution in cities as outlined by the World Health Organization and other experts. The situation requires urgent action now. As far as I’m concerned, the most annoying noise pollutant is the loud, ramped-up background music in modern eateries. It’s bad enough having to put up with loud, obnoxious diners. David Honigsberg, Toronto Now that Mayor Tory recognizes that motorcycle and other vehicular noise is a problem, he should address other noise sources. Noise pollution not only annoys — it degrades our health and quality of life. Weak noise regulations and defunded enforcement are killing us. I look forward to the mayor boldly declaring noise a public health threat as per Toronto Public Health’s latest report, ”How loud is too loud?” He should instruct bureaucrats to tackle unsafe noise from construction, mechanized garden maintenance and amplified sound from inconsiderate neighbours, clubs and open-air concerts. Regulation should be backed up with tough, credible enforcement that stands up in court. A quieter city is a healthier one. Harold B. Smith, Toronto architect I agree with the Star that the mayor should take a stronger role in solving noise pollution. The sounds of the city noises take over our lives. Only when hydro goes down does one really appreciate the silence in the city. It is like another world. We definitely need stricter bylaws. Logging sounds on a daily basis is a ridiculous tool to get things resolved. To reduce noise pollution, we need stricter building code bylaws for sound transmission in our residential buildings. Is anyone aware that the building code does not have a national or provincial bylaw for sound transmission for the exterior façades of buildings? In Germany they have façade engineers who design the exteriors of buildings to reduce noise. We need proper exterior cladding and windows for our residential buildings instead of the cheap double-glazed windows that dominate our condominium market. Even our commercial buildings have stricter laws. The solution is to invest in proper triple-glazed soundproof windows, as is done in other countries. Wake up politicians and get moving on reducing the din of the city, both outside and inside. Astra Burka, Toronto architect Another good way to reduce noise pollution would be to ask drivers of firetrucks, police cars and ambulances to use their noise-makers only when they’re needed for safety. Simon Leigh, Toronto

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