Nfld. & Labrador·Point of View

Jackhammers, away! City maintenance may be necessary, but it's killed my hearing

The sounds of the great outdoors are not all sweetness and light, writes columnist Edward Riche, who wonders why St. John's does not enforce its own noise bylaw.

One wonders why a city with a noise bylaw does not enforce it

Sorry, songbirds; during construction season, many of us awake to the trill of a jackhammer on concrete.

John Gushue was in this space recently bemoaning the loss of his bay idyll to the infernal screaming of Jet Skis. Near my place in town, the din came from something else: the tear up of a seemingly fine sidewalk and curb in advance of some paving.  

The project took longer than I, from a position of near total ignorance about such things, would have thought.

I put the duration of work down to it being executed with all vehicles involved running in reverse. This I deduced from the incessant beeping of the machines coming from the job site. The alarm sounded so continually, it ceased to have any effect as a warning.

I only became aware of it when it stopped.

Within two days of the job commencing you could have backed a steamroller straight over me. I wouldn't have noticed it coming.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The beeping of trucks and tractors and paving machines in reverse was mere ornament on the ruckus.

There was a drill such as a dentist uses, only the size of locomotive.

They were using electric boobangers, diesel woowangers and lithium crystal flooflangers. The work crew pushed the limits of the hydraulic slewslammer and really gave it to an old pneumatic repeating solid ejaculator, a big one that rattled and clanged when it let go.

There were contraptions that roared, others that made great gurgling and gulping sounds. There were rotary stompers and, because of the holdup in traffic, much barmping.

There were jackhammers and, at one point, Blacque Jacque Shellacque hammers. There was a drill such as a dentist uses, only the size of locomotive.   

Or so it sounded. 

Construction season is short here, gotta get 'er done.

Why change a machine solely so it can make more noise?

They would knock off the commotion on the weekends, just in time for everyone to mow their lawns first thing in the morning before speeding out of town to have their holiday ruined by the sounds of the Jet Skis and quads. 

A key sound of construction season: the infernal beeping of heavy equipment and trucks as they back up. What's not to love? (CBC)

The noise, noise, noise. As John pointed out, it's been proven to be bad for us, a genuine health risk, something beyond a mere aggravation.

But we live with it; things have to be built and repaired, pointless lawns have to be maintained, outdoor concerts have to be held somewhere. There are, improbably, still a few children dazzled by fireworks.

St. John's has more crime than Gotham City so its citizens accept the constant wailing of police sirens. There are fallen leaves too wily or aggressive to be raked and so must be blown.

But for what earthly reason would someone modify their car or their motorcycle to make more noise, to add to the pollution? There is racket enough.

We don't need another kitten sneezing let alone the 120 decibel sharts emanating from the open pipe on a bike.

In Goose Bay in the winter, it's the "silencers" on the snowmobiles, a penetrating and purposeless screeching to announce to the neighbours — and the wolves up in the Mealy Mountains — that you own a machine you likely can't afford.

Maybe's it a simple mistake. Or maybe they're sociopaths

There are probably lots of root causes for people feeling the need to make excessive noise to attract attention.  Perhaps their mothers coddled them too much, or too little.

Maybe they have emotional issues coming from a perceived physical inadequacy.

At night, the city air comes alive with the pleasant call of the police siren. (CBC)

They could be simple sociopaths. They might dread listening to their own thoughts or lack thereof.

Speaking of a big racket: Ted Blades and On The Go take a crack at excessive noise from motorcycles. Have a listen by clicking this player:

In this interview, On The Go asks the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary 6:32

That the unmuffled roar makes them safer of the roads has been soundly debunked by some rudimentary high school physics.  No surprise that ignoramuses who get their jollies by riding a deafening machine wouldn't have been paying attention in class when they studied the Doppler Effect.

But you know what? Who cares about the reasons why? They should just be quiet. 

They have no business violating a shared space and should be stopped from doing so by any municipality with a noise bylaw to enforce. 

Surely we all have enough on the go that we could use a little peace and quiet.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Edward Riche


Edward Riche writes for the page, stage and screen. He lives in St. John's.


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