‘So ignorant’: Beltline residents still fed up with constant vehicle noise pollution

It’s one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city, but many Calgarians say there’s still no reason for the Beltline to be this loud. 

Vehicle noise has been polluting the core — day and night — for years. And despite other cities trying to tackle the problem, it could be sticking around in Calgary. 

“We obviously know it’s an issue, but it’s just not something we regularly enforce,” Calgary police service sergeant Steve Campbell said. “It’s a difficult task.”

Residents say they’re fed up. 

Those enjoying the Friday sunshine told CTV News the vehicles have drastically reduced their enjoyment of 17th Avenue. 

“I can’t even hear myself think,” one person said. “Whoever has a cool car – even if it’s not cool, actually — they put some huge engine on it and they just zoom it down 17th.  Like, that’s the thing. It’s ignorant.”

Another — whose answer was interrupted by a loud motorcycle — said the noise is “constant from about 6 p.m. to 2 in the morning. You want to have conversations and enjoy the day and it’s just one after the other.”

But while the problem is clear, the solution is anything but. 

There are noise bylaws with an allowable limit of 96 decibels, but reporter readings showed that number broken multiple times. 

Police would be the ones to step in and fine drivers, but officers say they have no way to track the infractions. 

“We don’t have any tools that can definitively measure noise,” Campbell said. “And employing fines to eliminate the problem doesn’t always work. I believe its education more than anything.”

Officers must be able to demonstrate — and potentially prove to a judge — that the bylaw was broken. But without noise readers, that’s next to impossible. 

EDMONTON PILOT PROJECT

In Edmonton, a municipal pilot project ticketed hundreds last summer. 

No such project is planned here. 

“The difficulty is obviously the expense of this particular item,” Campbell said, “and measuring noise is very difficult (because) it’s hard to eliminate the ambient noise from the source.”

Edmonton police cited similar problems, but the northern needle will likely move sooner than our city’s. 

One Edmonton councillor is even pushing this week for harsher penalties and more monitoring.  

A petition he created is gaining steam. 

Calgary is instead putting more bylaw officers in the core, but those officers can’t do traffic stops.

So — without any drastic changes planned — the cycle may continue throughout the late summer and in to another year. Which, for many residents, is hard to hear. 

In more ways than one.

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