Monday, 10 August 2009

A Little Quiet, if You Please! Noise in the Urban Setting

When you find out that you’re not the only ones who find something troubling, it’s often very comforting. What’s more, it may also be the beginning of doing something about it.

This time it’s noise, which I’m beginning to think is the next big urban problem. While the sound of heating and ventilating machines are a continuous problems and shoddy construction makes sound transmission within buildings worse, the latest complaints around here are related to outdoor concerts. The Stevie Wonder concert during the Montreal Jazz Festival was a great success, but we could hear it chez nous four kilometers away. And we’re not the only ones: residents of a suburb on Montreal’s south shore say they are being disturbed three nights a week by concerts at a park on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence, at least four or five kilometers from them.

There’s no excuse for this. Sound systems can be fine-tuned (pun intended,) better aimed, or even simply turned down. In fact, this seems to have happened at the Jazz Fest: although there were several other massive concerts, we didn't hear them.

Complaining about noise is not just crankiness. The dangers of high levels of sound are many, particularly for those close by. Just ask those rock musicians who have discovered at 30 that they’re deaf, or the construction workers for whom a whole range of sounds have disappeared because they've worked too long next to noisy machines. For those who are further away, well, there are a number of studies under way which aim answer the question of just effect noise has on our health, mental and physical. A Quebec one, commissioned three years ago, is due next fall.

To be continued...

1 comment:

lagatta à montréal said...

A related concern is light pollution. Solving it does not mean cowering in the dark as our forebears did thousands of years ago, but fine-tuning where light is directed. Light pollution is not a hazard only for migrating birds, but for human beings as well. Regroupement québécois contre le bruit (excessif) International Dark-Sky Association