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Noise Pollution”,  the Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Geraldine Santiago



When purchasing a home, it is always good to listen to the noise or various sounds in the area. Yes, you heard me, I said, “noise”. This is easier said than done, as no doubt you are probably more focused on finding out more about the over-all health of the building and not that interested in the noise level in the unit and its surrounding areas.

What can you hear from the property you are considering purchasing? Dogs barking? Birds chirping? Music from a next door neighbour? Car or house alarm going off? Renovations being done nearby? Noise, unfortunately, can detrimentally affect people’s health (sleep disturbance and increased stress). And this, my friend, is an important consideration when purchasing a property you are intending to live in for a long time!

If you work from home this is equally important as noise can ruin your concentration and your right to quiet and your right to enjoy your property. In Vancouver, BC,  a “Noise Control Manual” exists which is a manual that focuses on noise control. As Vancouver is becoming more and more a densely populated city, with multiple family dwellings living closer and closer to each other, the noise that they make and the noise that we make can mutually bother and affect each other.   New residential buildings are often built and located within mixed use areas, where activities associated with commercial land uses. 

The reality is that noise is all around us.  We can somewhat prevent noise from disturbing and disrupting our lives but it will still be there. When buying a condo, look at the location of the unit if it faces a busy street, a park, parking-- all of which are signs of potential noise.  If the unit has double paned windows, that might be enough from hearing the traffic outside.  In condos, you might want to see if there have been others bringing up noise problems and if any other owner has made arrangements in their unit to either insulate their floors, ceilings or walls.  What about being allowed to install some type of fan in the unit? I find that this mutes out the noise coming from the street.

Some people are more tolerant of noise than others. If noise is something that is important to you, for your “peace” of mind and quiet enjoyment, you might want to do some research on what your city is doing about noise pollution. In the City of Vancouver, the City works to manage noise through land-use planning, bylaws, traffic management and policing.  Look at the noise bylaw in your area.  The City’s Noise Bylaw regulates construction, vehicle, and household noise within Vancouver. For more details, go to

In addition, in Vancouver, an “Urban Noise Task Force” was created because of growing concerns about noise and its affects on everyday life.  The citizens’ group, with the assistance of City staff and Councillors, made a series of recommendations to the City for improving Vancouver’s soundscape, many of which are being implemented today.

Local citizens groups have worked towards having traffic noise levels in their neighbourhoods reduced, while others have encouraged ‘traffic calming’ measures. In East Vancouver’s Mt. Pleasant, you will see East 6th as a bicycle route, or traffic calming route thereby reducing the exposure to noise in this particular neighbourhood.  


You don't have to be the 'Grinch" to be affected and intolerant of the noise!

In my next article, "Noise Pollution; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Part Two), I will address some of the ways you can actively remove noise pollution from your life!