Ottawa plows testing quieter back-up alarms in the core

Snowplows in the downtown area are currently equipped with a quieter back-up alarms that the city hopes will help reduce noise complaints.

The city hopes the new alarms will reduce the amount of noise complaints from residents

Snowplows in the core are now equipped with the new alarms as part of a pilot project. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The City of Ottawa is currently testing a muffled back-up alarm on snowplows that work in downtown areas.

The test is part of a pilot project the city hopes will help reduce noise complaints about nighttime snow removal.

Current back up alarms sound like this:

But the new alarms sound like this:

"Some have described it as white noise, or sort of a static-y sound … [as] if your TV was on a channel with no signal," said Luke Senecal, on CBC's All in a Day.

Senecal is the city's manager of fleet life cycle and safety. He said the uniqueness of the sound will help keep residents on their toes when they hear it for the first time.

On top of having a muffled sound, the alarms also have the ability to adjust the sound level depending on the surroundings.

"It will make less noise if there is no surrounding noise around it, and if it's in a loud area, it will reach its maximum volume," said Senecal. 

Less noise, more cost

The new alarms may help lower noise complaints, but that will come at a price.

The old alarms cost about $30, while the new ones are at least five times that — $151 or $266 each depending of the decibel level.

The city will not equip the entire fleet until it has received feedback from residents and snowplow operators.

The pilot project covers areas in the north end of the city, from Island Park Drive to St. Laurent Boulevard.

With files from Laura Osman