Decibel limits recommended for Abbotsford noise bylaw

Public unhappy with current, subjective rules

The city is planning to add decibel limits to the noise bylaw.

The city is planning to add decibel limits to the noise bylaw.

Most people are unhappy with how noise is regulated in Abbotsford.

At present, there are no objective limits to noise levels in the city, just a ban on noise loud enough to “disturb” residents. According to a recent city survey, 58 per cent of respondents aren’t happy about this and they want things to change.

The city plans to move to an objective decibel limit, but this would cost up to $10,000 to buy meters and train staff.

Momentum to update the bylaw began this summer, when a resident near Enterprise Avenue and McCallum Road told council he was bothered by the constant industrial hum nearby.

This started off consultations with businesses, stakeholders and the public, leading to a decision Monday that decibel limits were definitely the way to go.

According to the public survey, the kinds of noise that bothered people the most included traffic, music and parties, barking dogs, and construction and industrial noise. According to social media commenters, the main concern was noise from idling trucks.

Respondents also wanted to limit industrial noise after midnight, and introduce a defined quiet time.

The current noise bylaw has scheduled times when noise from construction, garbage trucks, power tools, and model airplanes are restricted, but no other time limits.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Moe Gill, whose background includes first-hand experience in large-scale farming, expressed concern that a designated quiet period could hamper agricultural processing plants that run multiple shifts. Council’s consensus in the ensuing discussion was to recommend quiet periods apply to residential areas and neighbouring industry, not heavy industrial areas.

The Township of Langley uses decibel limits in its noise bylaw, with a limit of 55 decibels in residential areas during the day and 45 decibels in residential areas at night. In Chilliwack, the noise bylaw limits noise in industrial areas that border residential areas to 80 decibels during the day and 65 at night.

An increase of 10 decibels makes a sound roughly twice as loud.

City staff will now work on preparing a draft version of a new noise bylaw with decibel limits.