Teamwork Needed to Tackle Noise Issues

by Markus O'Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

Sometimes our toughest neighbourhood challenges need a lot of teamwork to move them in the right direction. That's certainly been the case as we continue to deal with noise issues resulting from loud motor vehicles. As the weather has warmed up again, and more of us are spending time with our windows open, we're again reminded of the chronic issue of revving engines and screeching tires that are too often heard in the early hours of the morning, especially along the Yonge Street corridor.

Noise complaints have been on the rise in Willowdale since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late 2020, John passed a motion at Council asking staff to look at new solutions to the problem, including automated noise enforcement, and the possibility of establishing a new licensing requirement at auto mechanic garages or body shops, to hold them accountable if they illegally modify cars.

Last month, another motion was adopted by Council, giving similar direction to City staff. In this case, the direction was to establish a direct connection with the City of Edmonton that tested automated noise cameras in 2018 so a similar approach can be taken in Toronto. Many City Councillors share these concerns and reports from staff are expected back in the early fall.

In the meantime, we've sought support from the Toronto Police Service whose officers are empowered to enforce both the City Noise Bylaw and the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. This week, we arranged a meeting between staff at our local 32 Division and a delegation from the Yonge Corridor Condominium Association, with 11 local condo buildings represented by their board members.

In addition to the noise complaints, we also shared the latest batch of data from City Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) Cameras. 3,096 speeding tickets were issued from the ASE location on Doris Avenue in the month of March alone – a 290% increase over the number of tickets issued in the same location in February. Five offenders received seven tickets each during the month. These staggering statistics makes clear the importance of live enforcement, especially now that the cameras have rotated to new locations.

32 Division, for its part, has been a willing partner. Staff Sgt. Steven Tracy told us that he's never worked in a neighbourhood with such a high number of high-end sports cars speeding around and that this corridor is already very much on their radar. An additional full-time traffic officer was recently added at 32 Division to increase their enforcement capabilities. While that's a 50% increase in their capacity, the total of three officers have a huge amount of ground to cover.

So in the short term, teamwork is also going to be needed from members of our community as well. Here's how you can help:

  • Report incidents of noise or high vehicle speeds to the Toronto Police Service HERE. They use neighbourhood traffic complaints to determine their deployment locations.

  • Report incidents of loud vehicle noise to 3-1-1. City staff have been asked to track this data and may rely on highest areas of complaints for piloting new enforcement tools.

  • Share this information with your neighbours and encourage them to take the same steps.

  • If you live in a condo, ask your condo board if they are members of the Yonge Corridor Condominium Association. This organization will continue to do advocacy work on this issue, and there is strength in numbers. We will keep working with the YCCA executive as well.

  • Contact our office for information on how to request a mobile WYSP board for your street or to order a few Watch Your Speed lawn sign for your home.