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Noise Bylaw Review Report

Make your voice heard!

The City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards report to make improvements will be at the Economic and Community Development meeting on Thursday January 11.

EC9.5 - Implementation Review of the Noise By-law

See all reports for this item at EC9.5

  • To register as a deputant (on line or in person) and/or submit your comments - email by Wednesday January 10. Depute in person if you can.

  • Address your submission or comments to Chair Alexandra Bravo and members of the Economic and Community Development Committee.

  • The in-person meeting starts at 9.30 am in Committee Room 1 at City Hall. Items are not time slotted so be there by 10. You will have 3 or 5 minutes to speak. You could begin with your personal experience with noise issues.

See the information below to assist you in developing your submission. First is an introduction followed by the 9. noise topics covered in the City report.


At the fall City consultation sessions, the vast majority of people raised concerns about worsening experience with noise in the City over the last four years, as well as concerns with noise enforcement. The issues are greatest in the newer higher density areas. According to public opinion research conducted on behalf of the City in 2023, almost half of residents believe that more needs to be done to restrict noise levels. because of potential negative health consequences and impacts to quality of life and well-being. Managing and regulating noise is a complex undertaking and proposed changes attempt to maintain the balance of multiple competing interests of people living, working, and visiting in the City. The consultations showed that:

  • The increase in noise and vibration is impacting physical and mental health.

  • The processes to report noise complaints and to receive appropriate responses are frustrating.

  • There is a need for stronger and more effective enforcement.

  • Many residents want to see the City proactively manage noise and vibrations.

  • More transparency is required regarding the different aspects of, and processes followed by the City in implementing and enforcing the Noise By-law, including what, when, and how data are reported.

  • The language in the Noise By-law needs to be clearer and simpler to understand.

  • There is a need for more public education on the By-law and its rules.


1.     Amplified Sound

Concerns were raised in the consultations that issues re amplified sound have increased since 2019 and that densification of the City is outpacing regulations. As well there were concerns about ineffective enforcement. Amplified sound is the top category of noise complaints. These complaints related to  from concert venues, party boats, restaurants/clubs, and short term rentals. Measuring noise at Point of Reception (ie  generally a residence) is problematic.  The residence visits are intrusive and the inspections  are allowed up to  5 days for followup to a noise complaint. There are no noise measurements taken at the time of the complaint. The complainant may be required to attend at court, and court appearance may be needed. One past example is that of the Toronto Islanders who had to prepare their own logs to record noise levels  from a nearby entertainment facility  and then go to court to support their case. However, the point of reception measurement may be needed in some cases so must remain as a backup.

Clarification is required regarding the interaction of regulations for the new Night Economy uses and those of the Noise Bylaw.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support the proposed lowering of the permitted noise levels limits in recommendation 16. by 3 dB to refer to lower outdoor night time sound level (expressed in terms of Leq for a 10 minute  period) of 42 dB(A) or 57 dB(C) and a daytime limit of 50 dB(A) and 65 dB(C).

  • Support the proposed new definition of sound that includes induced vibration, as this results in increased noise impacts.

  • Add a new recommendation regarding  improvement to the complaints process.  While measuring sound at Point of Reception, such as in a person’s home, must be retained as a fall-back option, sound must be measured where possible at property line of the source. 

  • Add a new recommendation to require a further report as to how to coordinate the enforcement of the Night Economy Level 2 Noise control plans with the Noise Bylaw provisions. The Noise Bylaw report has no reference to this new noise control provision that is tied to licensing. Noise control plans  can help with compliance. Level 2 plans require an engineer to certify noise levels and no compliance can result in the loss of a licence to operate.

  • Add a new recommendation for a further report to develop appropriate regulations to control noise levels on party boats to reduce impacts on the many residents nearby.

  • Add a new recommendation that, given recent improvements to noise camera technology  (as used by New York City), the City undertake a pilot project to explore the use of noise cameras as an effective way to measure excessive noise from amplified sound outside entertainment facilities.

  • Support the recommendation of the MLS report which divides requirements to measure sound levels close to the source into two separate categories – for amplified sound 85dB(A) or 105dB(C) for vibration measured at the property line where the activity is taking place, but  require that the 85 dB(A) limit be reduced to 75dB(A) or better 70dB(A) etc. to help reduce noise in the City.


2.     Motor Vehicle Noise

Complaints about motor vehicle noise have increased considerably – the noise levels especially at night, frustrations with calls to 311, lack of enforcement , and the impacts of illegally modified exhausts. Further issues include blaring music from cars, emergency vehicle sirens, noise from large trucks, including waste collection trucks, private and public delivery trucks, and construction vehicles. Also enforcement was found to be insufficient. Suggestions were made in the consultations such as to create a media campaign to highlight negative impacts of motor vehicle noise on mental and physical well-being, what efforts can be made to decrease noise, and inform the public of standard noise measurement decibels and enforcement processes.

Noise radar can be extremely helpfully in identifying excessive noise levels in moving vehicles and should be introduced as soon as possible. New York City is now beginning to use noise radar equipment. But the City requires Provincial approval to regulate moving vehicles

One suggestion made in the consultations was that the City monitor and identify shops/mechanics that are modifying vehicle exhausts.

The main proposed bylaw changes are to clarify that the City is responsible only for stationary vehicles and to clarify what the permitted noise levels should be.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support recommendation 18 which prohibits excessive noise from a stationary vehicle.

  • Support a reduction in permitted noise from that in Recommendation 19 but reduce the permitted noise level measured at least 50 cm from the exhaust outlet at idle from 92 dB(A) to 85 and from 96  dB(A) or 93 moving. This will provide for the much needed substantial reduction in noise. And  preferably r a further reduction to 70 or 75 dB(A).

  • Support Transition recommendation 43.9 to increase fines for modified exhausts and also to request the Province for regulatory changes to enable the City to initiate a noise activated camera noise enforcement pilot project.

  • Add a recommendation that the City investigate businesses that make illegal modifications to vehicle exhausts.

  • Request MLS and Emergency Services to consider reducing the noise from emergency vehicles at night.


3.     Construction

An effective option in some communities is the use of construction management plans that are developed by the construction manager in consultation with neighbouring residents. They are helpful in resolving some local issues upfront by including solutions in the plan and also provide for contacts to assist in the resolution of issues that arise. The excessive noise from back up beepers was noted in the Noise Bylaw Review Consultation and newer broadband beepers were recommended as much quieter.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support Recommendation 17 that deletes a redundant reference in the provision that prohibits “the emission of sound resulting from construction if any operation of construction equipment that is clearly audible” during specified hours and on Sundays and statutory holidays.

  • That the use of construction management plans be promoted which provide for residents’ advice as to local issues and assist with communication during the construction period. Complaints are dealt with directly between the affected residents and construction staff, and 311 is not involved. Construction management plans should provide that nearby residents and others in the area are adequately protected from other construction noise including noise from equipment.

  • That MLS require construction projects to use broadband beepers rather than the current excessively noisy back up beepers.


4.     Waste collection

Comments at the consultations added waste collection noise as a major new issue for people living in higher density areas where there is private waste collection. Noise from private waste collection vehicles lasts 20-40 minutes at a time over as many as 6-7 nights per week.

Note that in 2022 the City exempted private waste collection from the noise bylaw without any public consultation. There must now be public discussion to find ways to reduce the excessive noise at night.

 TNC Recommendations

  • Support the staff proposals to better monitor and address waste removal noise issues by working with 311 to develop a clear pathway to track complaints and work with operators when issues arise in consultation with Solid Waste Management and to report back as necessary on issues to be addressed.

  • Support Transition Recommendation 43.11 that the Council direct MLS to report as soon as possible on a  process to monitor noise issues from waste collection operations and  to also report back on proposals to address the issues, given urgency of addressing the issues of sleep deprivation, MLS must report as soon possible on solutions, such as changing operating hours in certain locations.

  • Add a recommendation that the City develop strategies to encourage the use of new systems as other cities have, for example using more effective and quiet pneumatic systems in new development areas, such as The Portlands and Downsview and other appropriate new development projects.

  • Support initiatives for residents to submit complaints re waste collection noise and for the City to communicate to industry on persistent noise issues.


5.     Power devices

City Council has already directed MLS to report on banning noisy and polluting gas powered leaf blowers. But the current report noted that is not mandatory to include decibel levels on small engine devices “that a decibel limit would not have the effect of banning gas powered equipment”, that a decibel level could not be established for the equipment, and that there rather should be an education campaign to encourage people to reduce noisy power devices, and to use battery powered or low noise or alternatives to power blowers. But MLS had previously reported that a decibel limit that reflected the much reduced noise levels of electric equipment should be considered, and that would in effect ban the gas powered version. Ways to eliminating the noisy and polluting gas powered engine must be found.


TNC Recommendation

  • Add a new recommendation that, given that public education is not sufficient to eliminate noise and pollution from gas powered equipment, MLS include in their report requested for 2024 on banning these machines, other options to eliminate gas powered equipment, especially given that other municipalities have successfully done so.


6. Stationary Sources and Residential Air Conditioners

The current Noise Bylaw includes regulations for these devices that are excluded from regulations in the Environmental Protection Act, setting the maximum level at 50dB(A) at point of reception for outdoor areas. Noise from air conditioners was not a topic at the fall consultations but staff subsequently received over 4,000 complaints and now recommend a reduced night-time limit. Staff received recommendations regarding establishing different standards for day and night time, and indoor and outdoor locations to help support City enforcement efforts.

TNC Recommendation

  • Support the report Recommendation 20 re changes that include new provisions for outdoor areas of 50 dB(A) during daytime and of 45dB(A) for night time, and for indoor areas daytime 45dB(A) and 40 at night. and “that the Ontario government clarify rules surrounding stationary sources and residential air conditioners and provide easy to understand public communications on the regime.”


7. Unreasonable and Persistent Noise

The report recommends clarification of regulations re persistent sound to include the important impacts of vibration. They also support use of this category when there are multiple noise sources.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support Report Recommendation 21 to change the definition of “unreasonable and persistent noise” to mean any noise or sound -induced vibration that would disturb the peace, comfort or convenience of a reasonable person in the circumstance.

  • Support use of this category when there are multiple noise sources.

  • Add a recommendation to reduce the sound levels of sirens in the City. They are unnecessarily loud.


8. Noise Exemption Permits

The major change is to introduce 2 levels of exemptions reflecting potential impacts of the events. Making information about exemption permits public to neighbours is essential.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support Recommendations 22 to 42 that include improvements to the process including provision of notices to councillors and posting of notices and updating permitted sound levels from equipment and that this sound is to be measured at a lot line or 20 metres form the source and that that a special exemption is not needed for large crane work but that a notice be provided to those within 120m radius of the activity at least 7 days prior.

  • But amend Recommendation 38 to require posting on site a copy of all exemption permits and not leave this up to the discretion of the Executive Director.


9.     Enforcement

The consultations showed many issues with the 311 complaints process especialiy  the lack of timely responses to complaints, and the lack of response after 2am. The current 5 day time frame for enforcement officers to respond to amplified sound complaints is simply not acceptable. Consideration should be given to more pro-active enforcement by adding requirements to include soundproofing and proper acoustical barriers for restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Additional officers will be required to support the new Night Economy initiatives that continue all night.

The report proposes to complement the proposed refinements to the Noise By-law; City staff will develop a “best practice” fact sheet and voluntary guidelines on how residents and organizations can help mitigate the level of noise in the City, to be included on the City’s webpage, and for distribution by enforcement staff.  The need for community involvement was stressed during the consultations.

TNC Recommendations

  • Support the MLS initiative to develop a “best practice” fact sheet and voluntary guidelines on how residents and organizations can help mitigate the level of noise in the City.  Support public education initiatives including the development of voluntary guidelines on how residents and organizations can help mitigate noise levels.

  • We note that given the current large number of vacancies for officers, MLS is not asking for increased funding this year for more.  But to provide service in a more timely way and to support the new Night Economy initiatives, add a new recommendations that MLS to give high priority to recruitment of new inspectors and that MLS request additional funding in this year’s budget to add more. 

  • Request MLS to report on report on ways to reduce the five day waiting time for a noise inspector to report on a complaint

  • Support Transition Recommendation 43.12. re public education as part of their implementation of the new bylaw changes and best practices for compliance and processes when a complaint is issued.

  • Support Transition Recommendation 43.13. re increasing fines for non compliance with the Noise Bylaw.

  • Support initiatives to improve 311 operations with better technology and services.

The Toronto Noise Coalition is a volunteer advocacy group working to build better noise bylaws and encourage stronger enforcement.

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