Table of Contents

Construction Noise

Overriding Toronto’s Noise Bylaw controlling Construction Noise

One of the most common complaints across the City is about noise, particularly noise from construction sites. In 2013, the City initiated a review and community consultations on the Noise Bylaw. The amended by-law came into effect on October 1, 2019.

The Noise Bylaw (Chapter 591, City of Toronto Municipal Code) permitted operation of construction equipment ONLY during Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and no construction noise on Sundays and statutory holidays (amending bylaw 505-2006).

These by-law hours were established after extensive consultation with residents, noise experts, developers and the construction industry. They provide a balance to allow residents living near construction sites the reasonable ability to enjoy their homes while allowing construction to occur at a reasonable pace.

In April, 2020, Doug Ford’s provincial government, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, extended construction hours for the stated purpose of building new hospitals. The Province of Ontario passed Ontario Regulation 130/20 under the City of Toronto Act, 2006 that limits the City’s ability to prohibit and regulate certain types of noise.

Under the Province’s regulation, noise made in connection with construction projects and services associated with healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space is permitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Noise made in connection with any other construction activity is permitted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. The Provincial Regulation is in effect until October 7, 2021.

While no new hospitals were built in Ontario, many Toronto residents have suffered as a result of excessive noise day and night, 7 days a week, from luxury condo developments.

Extending non-healthcare sector construction hours should have never happened in the first place.

At the time that Ontario Legislation 130/20 was enacted, letters were submitted to the City and to the Province asking that this be redacted for the non-healthcare sector.

FoNTRA submitted a letter to the Premier, Province of Ontario on April 19, 2020 urging that the provincial government to remove residential construction from the Essential Workplaces list, and eliminate the override on the City of Toronto’s Noise By-law.

FoNTRA also submitted a supporting letter to City Council meeting on June 29, 2020, supporting the City urging the Province to reverse measures and eliminate the override on the City of Toronto’s Noise By-law.

The City approved Motions on June 29, 2020 to request the Government of Ontario to redact Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulations 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act, returning the power to regulate construction noise to the City of Toronto. No action has been taken by the Provincial Government.

Residents’ associations south to Bloor also submitted requests to the Provincial Government to redact Limitation 2.

Chris Glover, NDP MPP for Spadina-Fort York organized a Stop the Endless Noise Construction petition.

But nothing was changed!

New initiatives ask the Provincial Government to redact Limitation 2 on or before October 7, 2021 when the government reconvenes in the Fall.

City Council approved a motion on July 15, 2021 by Councillors Wong-Tam and Matlow to again request the Government of Ontario to repeal Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act, returning the power to regulate construction noise to the City of Toronto.

FoNTRA also submitted a supporting letter to City Council meeting on July 14, 2021, supporting the City urging the Province to reverse measures and eliminate the override on the City of Toronto’s Noise By-law.

FoNTRA and FoSTRA (Federation of South Toronto Residents’ Association) also submitted a joint letter to Minister Steve Clark on June 30, 2021.

Councillors Wong –Tam and Matlow initiated a ‘Stop Excessive Construction noise’ email campaign directed to the Province asking that the province take action by immediately redacting Limitation 2 to Ontario Regulation 130/20 of the City of Toronto Act.

On Oct. 6. 2021, through an Ontario Building Codes announcement we were informed that the Provincial Government had not renewed Limitation 2 – as of Oct. 7, 2021 construction noise will not be permitted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays and all day Sundays and statutory holidays. 

Toronto Noise By-law

Toronto is a growing, vibrant city where noise can be common. Businesses and residents are expected to live within the standards defined for various types of noise. The Noise By-law includes decibel limits and time restrictions for some types of noise.

The City of Toronto website provides by-law regulations by type of noise. Information is also provided to how to submit a service request and what will happen when you submit a noise complaint. 

A Noise Working Group was involved with the review of a revised Toronto Noise By-law which came into effect in October, 2019.  At the time that by-law was adopted, City Council requested an update in one year’s time on the implementation of the by-law as well as any outstanding issues.  A report was to be brought to the Economic and Community Development Committee in Q4 2020.  The review has been suspending during the COVID pandemic but it is expected that the Municipal Licensing and Services report, originally proposed for 2020, will now be delivered in 2022.  A new survey (the previous survey was done in 2016) will be undertaken by the Toronto Noise Coalition in advance of the City’s 2022 report.

Noise Bylaw Review 2022

City Council has directed Municipal Licencing and Standards (MLS) to report on two topics:

  • Restricting noise from two-stroke leaf blowers and other small-engine equipment
  • Preventing excessive vehicle noise and potential use of automated noise enforcement and noise radar technologies.

MLS will be reporting to the Economic and Community Development Committee and making recommendations on May 30, 2022, on these topics. The report will also discuss ongoing improvements to the City’s noise enforcement regulations and will outline plans for public consultations, and consider the potential timing and analysis required for a comprehensive review of the amended Noise Bylaw in 2023.

Provide Your Comments

  1. To help inform the May 30 report – submit your comments to MLS by April 20, 2022.
  2. Submit a letter and/or depute at the May 30 Economic and Community Development Committee on the MLS report – we will provide information/links to the report and the agenda item as soon as it is available.

Why ban two-stroke leaf blowers and other small-engine equipment?

  • Studies have shown that excessive noise is harmful to hearing and health: Noise from popular models of commercial gas leaf blowers exceeds 100 decibels at point of operation and carries over long distances, affecting entire neighborhoods. These levels are orders of magnitude higher than safe standards for workers and the public with health effects ranging from hearing loss to heart disease and psychological and cognitive disturbances.
  • Existing legislation restricts the use of two stroke leaf blowers and other such garden equipment: Several Quebec municipalities, part of Vancouver and the National Capital Commission as well more than 200 US communities have enacted such legislation because of noise levels that far exceed health and safety standards and comes with high costs for our health, environment, and our enjoyment of our homes and communities. See also https:/quiet

Further benefits of banning 2-stroke leaf blowers and other small-engine equipment

  • Eliminate high levels of harmful pollution: 2-stroke leaf blowers are much more polluting than cars. Operating a two-stroke gas-powered leaf blower (GLB) for 30 minutes emits pollutants equal to those generated by driving a Ford F-150 truck 3,900 miles. Concentrations of hazardous ultrafine particles from commercial GLBs are up to 54 times higher than a busy highway intersection in Los Angeles. These invisible pollutants are inhaled by equipment operators and passers-by and have health effects ranging from heart and lung disease to stroke, cancer, and premature death.
  • Eliminate fuel spillage, waste, and contamination of soil and aquifers: Every year gas leaf blowers and other lawn and garden equipment in the US consume 1.6 billion gallons of gasoline, generate tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide, spill millions of gallons into the ground and storm drains, and add millions of pounds of toxic and non-recyclable waste to our landfills.

Excessive vehicle noise and potential use of automated noise enforcement and noise radar technologies

  • The 2019 Noise Bylaw only addresses excessive muffler noise from motorcycles. The revision to the bylaw must include automobiles. No explanation was given for the exclusion of automobiles.
  • The current Bylaw permits a maximum of 92 decibels, which is considered too loud by most authorities, including the World Health Organization. The Bylaw level must be changed to 80-82 dB, as was recommended by the Toronto Noise Coalition for the 2019 Bylaw and is used by Harley Davidson and by the Toronto Police for their motorcycles. While the difference between 82 dB and 92 dB appears small, it represents a 100% increase in the noise level, as decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale.
  • Effective noise monitoring and effective means of enforcement are essential for Toronto. Automated noise radar technologies are being used and piloted elsewhere and the City must look at other urban areas’ experiences to find the solution most likely to result in a measurable reduction in noise, as well as conduct their own pilot studies. This is an evolving field.

More information is available at City of Toronto Bylaw Enforcement – Noise. If you have questions, they can be submitted to the Toronto Noise Coalition via their contact form. FoNTRA is a member of the TNC.

Toronto Noise Coalition

FoNTRA is one of many members of the Toronto Noise Coalition, which was formed to provide for the voice of residents in the development of the 2019 City Noise Bylaw. Having participated in a working group with the Municipal Licensing and Standards staff, we are now monitoring noise issues reported to the web site and waiting for report on the review of the 2019 Bylaw to be able make further recommendations for needed changes. 

The award-winning NYC Noise Code provides a good starting point for discussion. Using that as a model, The Toronto Noise Coalition has prepared a 7 Point Proposal that any new or revised bylaw must address.