Forge on, noise crusaders

November 1, 2011

Shhhh, use your inside voice. That’s better.

Our fair city, it turns out, has a problem with noise. And city hall, like an angry father banging on the bedroom door, looks like it’s finally had it with all the racket.

Just this week, two residents told city councillors they need to crack down on the loud motorcycles and cars that roar up and down our streets with annoying after-market mufflers and amplifiers, causing all kinds of headaches.

This, not so surprisingly, hasn’t sat well with some motorcycle owners, who say driving a quiet bike is kind of like bringing pink lemonade to a bachelor party or talking about your feelings. Basically, it’s for wussies.

Police, for their part, reportedly told a Cardigan Street man they couldn’t do anything about his concerns because officers don’t have the training and, more specifically, men who drive loud motorcycles are scary.

Still, the noise crusaders forge on. Earlier this month, a city hall committee was updated on a review of the city’s 11-year-old noise bylaw — including a proposed amendment that would ban “unnecessary yelling 24 hours a day.” Currently, all our shouting needs to be done between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekends.

The amendment would leave it up to bylaw officers to decide if the yelling was necessary or not. It’s not clear if exceptions would be made for medical conditions, namely those people who suffer from the strange malady that makes their voices rise with each beer they have.

Whatever the city decides to do, it’s clear plenty of residents just want some peace and quiet. Even University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee admitted things got out of hand during the recent Homecoming weekend, part of a noisy month in which citizens made 405 noise complaints.

One problem may be Guelph has some of the lowest noise bylaw fines in the province, according to a comparison prepared by city staff. The set fine for noise violations here is $130 — compared to a provincial average of $274.

Those poor, hard of hearing saps up in Barrie, long known as Ontario’s Shoutin’ City,  pay upwards of $410, meanwhile.

Bylaws changes can only do so much — living in a city comes with some noise, and there will always be sounds that are incredibly hard to control.

But there have long been a special few noise-makers among us who stand out from the din of urban life. In their honour, here’s a few suggestions on how to the city can keep those obnoxious citizens on the quiet side of our noise bylaws.

1) Teach knuckleheads to use American Sign Language after the bars close. After a few months, they’ll be able to say things like “Excuse me sir, but I object to your description of my mother’s romantic history” and “I’d like to suggest to that you depart the area at once and perform an act which is anatomically impossible” — all without shouting a single word!

2) Make form-fitting, leopard-print spandex suits required wearing for anyone who wants to install after-market mufflers or pipes on their motorcycle. My suspicion is noise complaints would drop off dramatically.

3) Mandatory girlfriends for everyone who still thinks that modifying the exhaust system on their Honda Civic is a really, really cool thing to do. Also, tell their parents to finally kick them out of the house so they can learn to spend their money on things that matter.

5) Banning anyone who drives a Ford Mustang from the 1980s from also owning the Dance Mix ’95 album. Why do those two things always seem to go together? Who really knows — it’s just one of those mysteries of life.

6) Blacking out TV broadcasts of games involving any professional sports franchise from Toronto. At the very least, it would cut down on the swearing.


Guelph Mercury. Oct. 29

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