Edmonton police targeting noisy vehicles as pandemic drives up complaints

Edmonton police officers will partner up with peace officers this summer to target vehicle and motorcycle drivers that make excessive noise while cruising around the city.

Enforcement will be paired with social media campaign

Edmonton police and peace officers will be targeting noisy vehicles at key locations throughout the city this summer. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

Edmonton police officers will partner up with peace officers this summer to target vehicles that make excessive noise while cruising around the city. 

Noisy vehicles are a recurring problem made worse by the fact that more people are home during the day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Edmonton police Sgt. Kerry Bates. 

"Also, people are walking around in the daytime when generally they may be at work. It's probably affecting a wider span of people," Bates said.

The racket is affecting people's quality of life, said Ian O'Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association. 

"It's really disheartening, to be honest, when people are trying to sleep or work and you're having vehicles just come through your neighbourhood with complete disregard and without any respect," he said.

The Downtown Business Association met with EPS officers Wednesday to discuss the situation, said O'Donnell. 

"We're hopeful that the police are going to be able to help us out, we know it's a citywide issue," he said  

Difficult to enforce

A City of Edmonton bylaw sets the maximum noise level for a motorcycle at 96 decibels. The fine for drivers who exceed that limit is $250. 

Alberta's Traffic Safety Act prohibits modifying a muffler to make it noisier. Those that do risk a $115 fine. 

The act also prohibits making excessive noises with a vehicle, but doesn't set a decibel limit. That fine is $155.

Enforcing these rules is more difficult than catching speedsters because there is no automated noise enforcement equipment, said Bates.

"The challenge is to actually be where the noise is happening and actually apprehend the person that's doing it and deal with them," he said.

Police and peace officers will be targeting noisy hot spots throughout the summer, such as Whyte Avenue, the 97th Avenue underpass near the Alberta Legislature and the High Level Bridge.  

Officers will also direct drivers to show that they've repaired or returned their vehicle to its original state, or risk another fine.

Changing attitudes

Some motorcyclists may not be aware of how loud their engines sound when they accelerate, said Bates. 

"It's just the way they're driving or operating their vehicle that's creating the problem."

EPS will be offering free testing sessions in the next months to motorcyclists who want to check how many decibels their bikes emit. 

Police will also be rolling out social media campaigns to encourage better driving habits.

O'Donnell hopes the message will finally be understood.

"It comes down to respecting thy neighbour and making sure that people, as they come into a community, recognize that people live there and people work there," he said.

He suggests that drivers who are itching to rev up their engines take a few laps around a racetrack instead. 

"I love cars, I enjoy racing. But that should be left for the track and there are opportunities if you want to go use your vehicle for that."