I have a noise complaint. What can I do?
Question & AnswerI have a noise complaint. What can I do?
1. Learn about common noise complaints
Most cities have rules about how much noise you can make from:
- amplified sound, such as loud music or speeches using electric speakers
- yelling, shouting, or loud partying
- dogs that will not stop barking, howling, or whining
- construction noise
- power tools like leaf blowers, chainsaws, and lawn mowers
- loud residential machinery, like air conditioners
A noise that disturbs one neighbour may not disturb another. Because of this, most noise bylaws only apply to noise that is “likely to disturb” those nearby.
Not every noise bylaw is the same, but they are all similar in important ways. For example:
Sound measurements: Most bylaws have a specific decibel-level that is unacceptable. Most noises are acceptable if they are between 40 and 60 decibels.
Exceptions: Most bylaws have exceptions. For example:
- Many noise limits only apply some of the time. For example, in some places, loud music is okay before 11 p.m., and lawnmowers or chainsaws might be okay between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Licensed community events like parades, concerts, or festivals.
- Construction activities during certain time periods.
- Snow removal during certain time periods.
To be sure of what rules apply to you, check your city’s noise bylaws. Bylaws for some of the larger cities in Ontario can be found here:
If you cannot find a copy of your city’s bylaws online, call them and ask how to get a copy. Often you can also speak to bylaw enforcement staff for answers to specific questions.