Kelowna cracks down on noisy boats and bikes

Noisy boaters and motorcyclists should keep the growl of their engines to a dull roar when rolling through Kelowna, unless they’re interested in paying fines in that range of $500 to $1,000.

City council approved a noise bylaw amendment that would allow police to ticket anyone whose vehicle is producing 92 decibels of sound while idling. When driving, the maximum acceptable noise would be 96 decibels.

“We’ve had this problem for a long time and it will be widely known very quickly we have this bylaw and we’re going to enforce it,” said Coun. Graeme James, during the Monday meeting, when the issue was raised.

“It will clean up this problem very quick.”

Motorcycles and boats with stock factory parts shouldn’t be a problem, as all on-road bikes are built to certain factory noise standards. The bylaw aims to crack down on bikes with custom exhaust systems that increase the bike’s noise.

It’s a change in tack that industry experts didn’t anticipate would be a problem for most.

Luc Fournier, director of policy for the Canadian Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council, was in council Monday and he fully supports the proposal, as well as the hefty fine associated with contravention.

That said, he’d also like to see Kelowna implement testing clinics, so those who ride will be informed on whether they break noise bylaws when they mount their bike.

“The results have been positive with that specific approach,” he said, noting that an Edmonton clinic that was held after that city launched the noise bylaw, brought in more than 1,000 motorcyclists and allowed the police to get further testing on the noise gauging equipment.

Those who didn’t change their ways did, however, face fines. Since implantation in 2010, Edmonton police issued 110 tickets. Twenty-four of those tickets were contested, and 14 penalties were set aside. The rest of them were paid without incident.

While the bulk of councillors and the industry representative were supportive of the changes, Coun. Andre Blaneil said he had concerns that the bylaw would discourage tourism and unfairly penalize motorists who were breaking sound barriers unknowingly.

To that, Coun. Robert Hobson pointed out that it’s more important to protect the rights of regular citizens who have been subjected to noisy boats and bikes for too many years.

Once police purchase the sound testing equipment, further educational material will be circulated and clinics will be held.


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