City officials are plugging their ears to the adverse affects noise has on health, insists a group clamouring for a quieter Toronto.
Toronto Noise Coalition (TNC) released a survey conducted by Public Square that found 72% of Torontoians are interested to some degree in the issue of noise pollution.
The survey of 600 people — commissioned by the TNC — also found 12% of respondents had filed a noise complaint with the city. And two-thirds of complainants were unhappy with the response from the city.
TNC spokesman Ian Carmichael said there is insufficient enforcement when it comes noise bylaws.
“Noise complaints have increased ... over the last five years,” said Carmichael. “Part of that is just due to development — there is construction noise — but there has also been a lack of enforcement of existing noise (regulations) by the city.”
Construction noise, leaf-blowers, and “amplified sound” account for some of the top complaints.
“The provincial officer of health and the city’s chief officer of health have both indicated that noise pollution is a serious health issue in terms of sleep, concentration, all of those things,” said Carmichael. “We believe it is a question of ... educating people about noise, of setting clear boundaries, and enforcement.”
In a briefing note, Dr. David McKeown, the city’s chief medical officer of heath, says noise causes sleep disturbances, which are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and viral illnesses.
Mark Sraga, of Toronto’s municipal licencing and standards department, says there are 200 officers available to deal with general complaints. But noise complaints may take a back seat to others in terms of response time.
Health and safety issues — a swimming pool with a downed enclosure, for example — must take priority.
“We prioritize, yes. Life and safety, life and death, those are priority issues. Noise is not one of those life and safety issues.”
Sraga said his department will be presenting a report to the city’s councillors which outlines will address the issue of better enforcement and ways of dealing with construction noise.
The poll was accurate within 3%, 19 times out of 20.