Noise in the neighbourhood is a contentious issue. Barking dogs, revving engines, and lawn mowers on an early Saturday morning are all common occurrences. When the noise is ongoing, or if neighbour’s are particularly sensitive to noise, these occurrences can result in arguments between neighbours, fractured relationships, calls to the police and at times even retaliation. However, it really shouldn’t come to all of that.
There are certain times throughout the year when neighbourhoods tend to be noisier. The holidays have their parties, while summertime has its playing kids, the previously-mentioned early morning lawn mowing, and that one neighbour who loves doing woodworking projects on his driveway (you know the one).
While it can be hard not to bristle at the thought of a lift in your neighbourhood’s ambient noise, in most urban and suburban neighbourhoods, the close proximity to one’s neighbours means that sounds transfer is a simple fact of life. Properties are smaller now, and neighbours live closer together. That means you won’t enjoy the peaceful isolation that you might in a rural area.
That being said, if you’re a shift worker who needs to sleep when most people are awake, or if you have a small child or an infirmed individual in your care, you may find that hanging noise-blocking curtains or even installing triple glazed windows may be a solution for dampening the ambient noise in your neighbourhood.
When Noise Becomes a Problem
While some neighbourhood noise is normal and generally short-term, there are times when noise is a real concern. In large cities like Toronto, noise complaints to the police or 311 can be as frequent as 9 per hour on any given night.
Before you take steps to remedy the problem, be sure to review the noise bylaws in your municipality. There are times when things like amplified music, construction, and vehicle repairs are allowed. Although, something like a dog that is persistently parking, howling or whining is prohibited. In a case such as this, you will need to prove that the barking is actually excessive by submitting a request for investigation through 311 (in Toronto) or the police.
Noise Infractions and Timing
Chapter 591 of the Toronto Municipal code outlines a number of noise infractions. Many of those are things you might not consider to be a noise-related violation. These infractions include, but at not limited to:
- The use of loudspeakers or other amplified sound devices that project noise beyond the lot line of the property from which the noise emanates.
- Emission of sound resulting from racing any motor vehicle other than in a regulated racing event
- Activation of a security alarm resulting in sound for a duration exceeding 5 minutes
Some noise violations are governed by the time and place of the occurrence. Evenings till early morning, Sundays, and statutory holidays are all considered quiet times by the City of Toronto. Examples of these time-specific by-laws include, but are not limited to:
- Playing loud music: Prohibited from 11:00 p.m. till 7:00 a.m., and from 9:00 p.m. in Sundays and Statutory holidays.
- The Operation or Use of any tool or device for domestic purposes, except power devices and snow blowers: 9:00 p.m. one day to 7:00 a.m. the next day, 9:00 a.m. Sundays and statutory holidays.
- Vehicle repairs: 9:00 p.m. one day to 7:00 a.m. the next day, and all day Sunday and statutory holidays.
Taking the Next Steps
When your neighbour’s noise becomes too much to bare, there are several things that you can do to try and remedy the situation.
- Talk it Out –This is always the best and first step that should be taken when you want to remedy any sort of dispute with your neighbor. Try to speak to them calmly. Explain that their noise is audible within your home and ask for a solution to the problem.
- Call 311 or the Proper Authorities –If talking to your neighbor doesn’t not bring about the desired results, your next step would be to notify the proper authorities about the problem. Contact them during the time that the noise is occurring.
- Sue –Taking Your neighbour to court is also an option, but it is not a decision that should be made without a considerable amount of thought. Doing so will not only cost more money than the noise issue may be worth, but it could also damage your reputation within the neighbourhood.