When the new neighbours turn your fortress of solitude into a cage of audible horrors, do not despair. There are many options for retribution and understanding your rights is the first step to restoring tranquillity.
The Letter of the Law
Part 9 of the City of Calgary’s Community Standards Bylaw (2004) explains everything you need to know about noise in residential areas. The bylaw states “citizens have the right not to be disturbed by noise” and that everyone “has the responsibility to not make noise that disturbs others.”
Noise is classified as “any loud outcry, clamour, shouting, movement, music or activity” (full points to the lawyer who decided to add “activity,” which covers everything that makes a sound, when you think about it).
Noise cannot exceed 65 decibels (dBA) over a one-hour period before 10 p.m. or 50 dBA over a one-hour period after 10 p.m. See this chart for a comparative explanation of what these levels mean. If you live downtown, the levels are higher — 75 dBA during the day and 60 dBA during the night.
If your requests to keep it down go unanswered, it’s time to call the authorities. You can start by contacting your condo board or landlord — if a representative lives onsite, they will likely get things done quickly. In Alberta, condo boards have the ability to levy a $50 charge on residents per noise infraction, and there are few avenues for appeal. If the owner refuses to pay the fine, the charge can be added to his/her condo fees.
If you want to bump up the enforcement level a notch, you can always call 3-1-1 and file a complaint with the City of Calgary. If bylaw officers are dispatched, they can measure the noise level from the “point of reception” (likely, outside the neighbour’s front door) with a sound level meter. Fines ranging from $50 to $200 can be handed out.
If you’re on the reverse side of a sound and fury debacle, you can plan ahead by applying for a temporary noise exemption permit from the City of Calgary. If the Chief Bylaw Officer decides to grant you a pass during the hours requested, you can pound those tunes during your party without fear of repercussion.
Image courtesy of MicheleM_.