Loud pipes cause lawsuits

Don't hold your breath waiting for any organized protests at this point. Credit: Zac Kurylyk

A Fort Saskatchewan resident is suing local police and city government after what he deems years of inaction over loud pipes, says the CBC.

For 18 years, 70-year-old Richard Jones says, he’s complained about noise levels of motorcycles going past his house. Despite his petitions for police to enforce noise laws, he says they aren’t enforcing the law, and he’s unable to enjoy peace and quiet in his garden. As a result, he’s suing the RCMP and the City of Fort Saskatchewan for $850,000 in damages.

He’s also named a crown prosecutor and the Minister of Justice in his suit, but they’ve asked the court to remove them, saying the suit doesn’t apply to them.

A statement of defence from the Attorney General of Canada refutes Jones’s allegations, saying “the Statement of Claim is frivolous, irrelevant or improper, or constitutes an abuse of process.”

Justice Canada sent Jones a letter saying he will be on the hook for double the cost of the proceedings if he doesn’t drop his lawsuit within two months, the CBC article says.

Jones, meanwhile, told the CBC he wasn’t filing this suit for the money – he says he wants to address “those cretins that think they have a God-given right to make all the noise they want. And they don’t, and the law backs us up.”

If you read the CBC article, make sure to peruse the comments at the bottom. There are some real doozies, including this one:

“I think there should be automatic noise punish machines installed through our cities. When your bike or car audio is too loud (it could be measured and set the top level considered normal and not hurtful to public) you would be sprayed with something really stinking so you better remember there are also other people around who are not obliged to be bothered with your noise. Since bikers are themselves very vulnerable sitting on their bikes and idiots playing very loud music in their cars have always open windows since they themselves can not stand the noise attack from their own car-audio systems it would be probably very quick fix.”

We asked our own CMG mouthpiece about the chances of Jones winning his lawsuit. Delighted to hear us ask about something other than how to beat yet another speeding ticket, here’s what he had to say:

“There is a duty on police officers and officials to enforce laws, but they also have a wide discretion as to how and how vigorously.  I don’t think there is a Charter right to quiet enjoyment of property, and the Charter only applies to government or state actors, but a failure to offer legal protection might give rise to a civil action against whoever is responsible for enforcing these particular laws.

 The common law recognizes no limit to the categories of torts one can claim;  if you can demonstrate a harm or loss due to someone else, you may find a court willing to award you damages.   The neighboring club may be at risk of being found liable in nuisance, a recognized category of tort.  I wonder why some manufacturers who market aftermarket pipes as the norm are not named, or the dealers who install non-Transport Canada approved exhausts. I think naming some of the other parties may be a stretch but I’m not convinced it will be summarily dismissed altogether. 

The costs threat is a common tactic and a real one to be careful of if you are suing anyone in uncharted legal territory.”

There you have it!


  1. How would one go about launching a lawsuit against CROWS? Damn things wake me up every morning with their incessant cawing and I have had enough of it. Thought I would ask for a paltry $750.000.00, Maybe I could get me one of those leachy USA lawyers to start a class action lawsuit against them for me and others suffering from this mentally stressful affliction.

      • I live in town Zac so you’ll have to use a slingshot. Plus a shotgun blast might hit Rob as he lives just down the road. I’ll pick up a bag of marbles at Dollarama for you though. I know I had some but they appear to have gotten lost over the years (as my previous post indicates). lol

  2. I think the problem is that the law is hard to enforce, so the cops don’t try to enforce it. They know that it’s not as easy as pointing a radar gun, getting a number and telling the judge. The sound meter needs to be the right distance away from the bike, oriented the right way, there can be no other loud noises nearby, the bike needs to be running at the right RPM (and most hardleys don’t have a tach anyway) yadda yadda yadda. And then all the work done to ticket the machines gets wasted because the judge throws all the tickets out because a clever lawyer finds a loophole in a poorly-worded law. It’s no wonder the cops won’t touch it: It’s nearly impossible to get a conviction!

    What bothers me is that there are SO MANY sources of objectionable noise: lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, construction sites, brakes on city buses, cans on mufflers on crappy little japanese cars, morons with stereos rattling the pavement, and so on ad infinitum.

    • Lawn mowers at least have a purpose, and presumably making them much quieter is difficult. If hedge trimmers or leaf blowers get used around my place, it’s for a very limited duration, and again it actually serves a purpose. Loud vehicles can randomly disturb my peace at any time of day, out of the blue. I’ve never had my TV drowned out by garden equipment when I’m watching it in the evening, or had to suspend a conversation on a patio because of it, but loud vehicles often have.

      Just because we can’t eliminate all offensive noise doesn’t mean we should try to do something about the ones we can. I totally agree that any vehicle noise law should apply equally to (at least) all passenger vehicles – cars, pickups, vans, SUVs, and motorcycles. Still, from the vantage point of my back step, I can honestly say that loud cruisers are the worst offenders. Next up are probably pickups and ricers with fart cans. Occasionally some very loud sportbikes, although at least they tend to move away quickly (but I’m not giving them a pass, either).

  3. Perhaps this is one of those situations where you should listen to what the man means, and not what he says.
    He wants people to be respectful in his neighborhood so he can enjoy a reasonable amount of peace and quiet.
    I see an example of the type of person who doesn’t accept the idea of suffering silently and is willing to make some effort to improve the situation.
    I hope he gets advice in directing those efforts more productively.
    Imagine being so frustrated you consider it a good idea to set traps of sticky string with audible fuses.
    That kind of imagination might be useful in trying to get idiots with open pipes to realize the selfishness of their ways.

  4. Why have the authorities been so law in enforcing the existing noise laws? When I was a kid, a blown-out muffler or a set of overly loud glass packs on your car (Thrush Cherry Bombs!) would get you pulled over for equipment violations repeatedly. 30 years ago there were not so many extremely loud vehicles on the roads. Straight-piped Harleys were pretty much the province of knuckle-dragging cretins.

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