Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Abbotsford City Hall File photo

Sound bylaw hasn’t stopped Abbotsford noise complaints

Hum and whine from industrial area annoys neighbours, but below sound max

Abbotsford’s new noise bylaw hasn’t yet quieted the nerves of people living in a neighbourhood near an industrial area just south of the downtown core.

The city adopted a new bylaw in 2017 that defined just how loud a business could be before it ran afoul of Abbotsford’s noise disturbance rules. As of 2017, sound created in a nearby industrial area and heard in a residential neighbourhood can’t exceed 55 decibels.

Staff told council last week that the bylaw has genuinely been successful, and that the public has welcomed the certainty that comes with having strict decibel limits.

But noise complaints have persisted from residents of a small neighbourhood next to an industrial area at the base of the Sumas Way bypass.

Staff have measured the sound and found it doesn’t exceed the allowed noise, but city bylaw enforcement manager Magda Laljee told council that is not to discount the annoyance caused by a persistent hum and whine attributed to a pet food company.

RELATED: New Abbotsford noise bylaw will set decibel limits, to neighbours’ relief

“These sound disturbances do affect a lot of people when they sleep at night … especially the hum and the whine which are very hard to measure,” she said in response to a question from Coun. Bruce Banman, who expressed sympathy for the neighbourhood’s residents.

Laljee said the businesses have listened, and one has ordered a silencing device to try to minimize the noise. The city has also provided mediation between that business and neighbours, she said.

“Our businesses are good neighbours and are working with us,” she said. “We will continue to go that extra mile to make sure that we can mediate.”

But if that doesn’t work, Laljee suggested the matter might end up in the courts.

“At the end of the day, if mediation does not help, we will have to allow some of these to go through the civil matters because there’s only so much we can do.”

Over 18 months, from June 2017 to December 2018, staff fielded 165 complaints. Twelve per cent of those dealt with noise issues stemming from the industrial area just north of the historic downtown, with 10 different complainants involved.


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