Abbotsford looks to set noise limits

Proposed bylaw would put limit on the amount of sound allowed, depending on location and time.

(AGoodGuiness/Wikimedia Commons)

New noise rules could be on the way for Abbotsford in response to residents complaints about disturbing levels of commotion produced by area businesses.

Staff have constructed a new bylaw that would put defined limits on the amount of sound allowed, depending on the location and time of day. A previous bylaw regulated noise subjectively, with only sounds deemed loud enough to disturb residents banned.

Council voted Monday to give the public a chance to comment on the proposal at an April 24 council meeting set for 3 p.m.

Under the proposed bylaw, noise generated in defined “quiet districts,” including residential areas, would be limited to 55 decibels during the day and 45 during the night. Noise generated in commercial and industrial “activity districts” would be limited to 70 decibels day and night, or 55 decibels as measured in nearby quiet areas.

The bylaw also allows for construction-related noise for up to 85 decibels during weekdays and Saturday. Staff told council that most bylaw complaints involve noise levels between 65 and 70 decibels. The bylaw also still bans any noisy activities that can disturb others.

Penalties of between $200 for breaching the bylaw will be issued after a warning.

The new bylaw springs from a delegation from a group of residents who came before council in February 2015 expressing concerns about noise coming from industrial businesses located off Highway 11. After the visit, staff solicited public feedback and heard that most wanted less subjective rules about disturbing noise.

Staff looked at 20 municipalities, around half of which regulate sound with decibel readings.

To measure noise, the city would need to buy at least two sound level meters. The devices recommended, staff told council, would cost about $800 each.

Abbotsford City Hall

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