In 2013, City Council adopted my motion which initiated an extensive review and community consultations on the Noise Bylaw (Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 591) aimed at introducing updates that reflect our growing and vibrant city while enhancing the noise standards that protect the residents of Toronto.
As of October 1, 2019 the Noise Bylaw amendments approved by Toronto City Council in April 2019 (EC3.6) came into effect.
Previous regulations were often subjective. The new rules are based on more objective, measurable criteria such as decibel limits and includes time restrictions for some types of noise, including noise related to amplified sound, construction, motor vehicles, power devices, animals and other stationary sources.
To ensure the City is positioned to effectively respond to noise issues, Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) introduced a number of operational improvements, including a dedicated Noise Team.
Residents with a noise concern are encouraged to consider speaking with those responsible for making the noise to give them an opportunity to correct the issue. If this approach does not work, residents can call 311 or submit a service request by email or online.
Dedicated Noise Team
- The new dedicated Noise Team made up of 24 staff, who are available to respond to noise complaints 7 days a week, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
- The Noise Team is moving to a case prioritization model that will more effectively focus the City's efforts on tackling high impact and frequent noise events. (therefore consistent reporting to [email protected] is critical)
- The dedicated Noise Team has undergone significant technical and operational training
- MLS is working with sound engineers to modernize investigation techniques.
- In addition to the other improvements, the bylaw amendments introduced higher fines, including a maximum fine threshold of $100,000.
Updated Noise Exemption Permit Process
- Continuous concrete pouring and large crane work as part of construction projects will no longer be automatically exempt from the noise bylaw. Individuals and companies that wish to undertake this work outside of the permitted hours must apply for a Noise Exemption Permit.
- Applicants can now submit noise exemption permit applications online and in-person at the Licence & Permit Issuing Office. More information is on the City's website.
- MLS has the authority to review, approve or deny exemption permits for continuous pouring and large crane work. Councillors will have 14 days to review all other noise exemption permit applications.
- MLS can request noise monitoring, mitigation plans, or a statement certified by a professional engineer or acoustical consultant for any sounds that cannot be technically controlled.
Quick Guide to Noise Bylaw Regulations
Amplified sound (for example, music from bars or concerts)
Noise will be measured by Bylaw Enforcement Officers using sound meters. Measurement will be taken outdoors from the point where the noise is heard. The noise must not exceed:
- 50 dB(A) or 65 dB(C) between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- 55 dB(A) or 70 dB(C) from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If Bylaw Enforcement Officers are unable to measure from the outdoor space, they may measure the noise from indoors. In these instances, noise must not exceed:
- 45 dB(A) or 60 dB(C) from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- 50 dB(A) or 65 dB(C) from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Ambient noise will be taken into consideration when conducting measurements.
Noise due to safety measures is exempt from the Noise Bylaw. Safety measures include bells or sirens operated by police, fire, paramedic services and bells or whistles operated by rail or transit services. This also includes other emergency measures as outlined in the bylaw.
Persistent noise from any animal is not permitted. Examples include persistent barking, calling or whining.
Noise is not permitted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Construction noise is not allowed all day Sunday and statutory holidays.
Government work is exempt from the Noise Bylaw. Government work includes construction, rehabilitation or maintenance work conducted by the City, Province of Ontario, Government of Canada and any of its agencies or agents, including the operation of motor vehicles and equipment actually engaged in the work.
Loading and unloading
Noise is not permitted from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. This includes noise from loading, unloading, delivering, packing, unpacking and otherwise handling any containers, products or materials.
- Clearly audible noise from vehicle repairs, rebuilding, modifying or testing is not permitted from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays.
- Motorcycle noise cannot exceed 92 dB(A) from the exhaust outlet as measured at 50 cm, while the motorcycle engine is at idle. This will be measured by Bylaw Enforcement Officers using a sound meter.
- Unnecessary noise, for example, engine revving and tire squealing, that is clearly audible at point of the reception are not permitted.
- Bylaw Enforcement Officers have no authority to stop vehicles on city streets as that is done by the Toronto Police Service under the Highway Traffic Act. A bylaw officer can commence a noise investigation when the vehicles is stationary, for example when vehicles are being repaired at a business or residence.
Motorcycle noise is an increasing issue in Toronto. Vehicle noise is governed under the Provincial Highway Traffic Act and therefore, under the purview of the Toronto Police Service and the OPP. Municipal Bylaw Enforcement officers do not have the legal authority to lay charges and fines under the act.
Toronto Police Services has the legal authority, training, and equipment to pull over vehicles and lay appropriate charges and fines. Engagement with local residents is an important way for police to gain an understanding of where the activity is taking place. We encourage residents to contact their local Community Response Unit Manager in order to make their policing priorities known.
51 Division (South of Bloor, east of Yonge Street): Staff Sergeant Todd Gowan, 416-808-5119
52 Division (South of Bloor, west of Yonge Street): Staff Sergeants Dan Martin and Ron Boyce, 416-808-5219
Power devices (for example, leaf blowers, chain saws, lawnmowers and grass trimmers)
- Noise is not permitted from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day, except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. These rules do not apply to devices used to maintain golf courses or public parks and to snow removal devices.
A religious ceremony in a place of worship
- Sound cannot disturb a religious ceremony in a place of worship.
Stationary sources and residential air conditioners
- Will be measured by Bylaw Enforcement Officers using sound meters. Sound should not exceed 50 dB(A) or the applicable sound level limit found in provincial noise pollution control guidelines. This does not apply to sources or facilities that have an Environmental Compliance Approval or have registered on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry.
Unreasonable and persistent noise
Noise not covered in one of the above categories cannot be unreasonable and persistent. The noise has to be both unreasonable and persistent to be counted as an offence. Unreasonable noise is a noise that disturbs the peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of a reasonable person. It does not include commonplace household or workplace sounds such as furniture being moved, children playing or people engaged in conversation. Persistent noise is continuously heard for a period of ten minutes or more or intermittently over a period of one hour or more.