Edmonton report suggests city could spend $1.6M a year to curb excessive vehicle noise

Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue in south Edmonton are common areas for excessive vehicle noise and racing.  (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)
Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue in south Edmonton are common areas for excessive vehicle noise and racing. (Natasha Riebe/CBC - image credit)

A new report suggests the City of Edmonton consider hiring 10 more peace officers to crack down on noisy drivers.

In the report released Thursday, the city outlined two options to deal with loud vehicles: keep about 20 peace officers to monitor excessive noise as part of their regular duties or hire two specialized teams of five peace officers to tackle the perennial issue.

The second option, which includes two dispatchers and five vehicles, is estimated to cost $1.6 million a year.

In August, city council's community and public services committee asked city administration to report back with options to enhance enforcement, including fine amounts and a plan to put into action by mid-2023.

Coun. Michael Janz said he heard complaints from businesses and residents all spring and summer of excessive noise from vehicles, either racing or revving their engines.

"We need to look at enforcement options, whether we hire five people or ten people — this is something that Edmontonians have been very clear that they want to see stopped," Janz said in an interview Thursday.

Noise complaints spiked from 150 in 2019 to 770 in 2020 and 1,028 in 2021, the report shows.

Janz said the city should increase the fine for breaking the community standards bylaw to at least $1,000 to offset the cost of the enhanced enforcement — down from the $5,000 fine he was calling for in the summer but council as a whole didn't agree to.

"This constant abuse by a small group of Edmontonians who are modifying their cars to make them even noisier and even more annoying, it's completely unacceptable," Janz said. "It's about time we have enforcement and let's stick them with the bill for it."

Bylaw limitations

The City of Edmonton's current bylaw doesn't allow peace officers to issue tickets related to excessive noise emanating from passenger cars and trucks.

Peace officers enforce the infractions through the provincial Traffic Safety Act, set at $162.

The city's bylaw can be used to issue tickets for noise that disturbs the peace and enjoyment of property, including from motorcycles, engine retarder brakes and construction-related noise.

Fine amounts range from $250 to $500 for the first offence and any subsequent offences can be doubled.

Administration could duplicate the provincial fine and set the minimum fine at $500 in the city's bylaw, the report says.

Janz also notes that Edmonton should look at other jurisdictions, like the City of Red Deer, that started using noise technology to issue tickets.

The report notes that people complaining about excessive vehicle noise reported that it disturbed their sleep and increased their stress levels.

People also noted a lack of visible enforcement efforts, the perception that enforcement is only during daytime hours and that current penalties do not serve as a sufficient deterrent.

Administration also gathered data from the city's noise page on its website.

From April to September the noise page was among the top 10 pages visited in the city government section, the report says.