New powers for Calgary peace officers could be music to the ears of citizens desiring quieter city neighbourhoods.
A notice of motion put forward by Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott at Thursday’s Executive Committee zeroes in on the ability of Calgary peace officers to conduct traffic stops beginning in 2023. That could allow them to enforce city bylaws – particularly around noisy cars.
The notice of motion was put forward for a review of technical merit. It was approved, meaning it will be debated at the next full meeting of Calgary city council.
Calgary communities, particularly around 17 Avenue SW have long complained about the popular roadway being used as a demo strip for after-market mufflers. It’s been difficult to enforce over the years and thus little has been done to address the issue.
It’s not the only part of the city though. Coun. Walcott said it’s something that happens in other parts of the city, too.
Coun. Walcott said the biggest change allows the city to boost enforcement powers of Calgary Peace Officers. It’s expected they’ll get Peace Officer Level 1, which allows for traffic stops.
“That opened up an opportunity, because the reason why noise was such a challenging thing to enforce previously is that it’s a combination of two things for the most part,” he said.
“One is it’s the noise bylaw. And two it was the Traffic Safety Act. So, our bylaw officers, while we could absolutely enforce the noise bylaw, they could not perform traffic stops.”
The notice of motion asks for an overview of potential bylaw changes that could increase enforcement ability. It also asks for a review of fines and penalties for noisy vehicles.
Walcott would also like to see a joint enforcement pilot program using the latest noise capture technology in place for next summer.
Capacity to handle the work
Coun. Sonya Sharp questioned if admin had the capacity to do the legislative groundwork leading up to a potential pilot or enforcement.
Admin said they were able to handle what was in the notice of motion. There were concerns about the capacity of bylaw to add additional enforcement workload.
Sharp also asked if the city’s legal team had reviewed it. They did, in fact provide their feedback on the notice of motion.
When he was a teacher at Western Canada High School, Walcott said he would pause his classroom as loud mufflers would go by.
“We know it’s an issue. Everyone has experienced it,” he said.
Walcott was asked about the noise being a part of being in a busy Beltline area. He this is a conversation not just about noise, but excessive noise.
“I mean, we're not saying make no noise,” Walcott said.
“We're saying ‘I would like to protect my eardrums a little bit.’”
The notice of motion asks the City to secure permissions from the province for the peace officer vehicle stops. It also asks for a report back to city council in Q1 2024 reporting on improvements to noise enforcement.