Ban the beep? Victoria may seek alternatives to noisy back-up alarm of city trucks
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, April 5, 2018 11:55AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 5, 2018 11:56AM PDT
It's a common sound in downtown Victoria, but the back-up "beep" of city-owned service vehicles could be muted as it becomes a growing source of complaints.
At a meeting Thursday night, Victoria councillors Margaret Lucas and Charlayne Thornton-Joe will put forward a motion exploring the use of back-up beepers in the downtown core.
The motion comes amid noise complaints from those living downtown who say they're getting woken up by the loud beeping of service and maintenance vehicles.
"If you're woken up every single morning by some type of a back-up beeper, that would become very annoying," said Lucas.
The councillors are asking staff to look into replacing the noisy beeps with white noise technology, similar to what campus maintenance vehicles at the University of Victoria did in 2015.
"Let's have staff take a look at it and report back to us on whether this is feasible or not in the downtown core," she said.
The white noise or "broadband" alternative to the back-up beep has already been approved by WorkSafe BC, which mandates that commercial vehicles have reverse alarms.
The noise, while quieter, still notifies people in the immediate vicinity that a vehicle is backing up with a series of sounds akin to a dial-up modem.
City-owned vehicles in Delta and Whistler have also made the switch.
"If it costs $50 to change the sound, I don't think it's a big deal," said Jeff Bray, interim executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. "If it's $5,000, I think that's a different issue."
Victoria's business community says if the motion moves ahead, it will explore the proposal with the city. While businesses want to be good neighbours, they say they also have to be mindful of their bottom line.
"This year we've got the single-use plastic bag bylaw that comes into effect July 1, we have the employer health tax that comes into effect," said Bray. "So already businesses, I think, are facing some additional costs and challenges."
From the city's perspective, the issue is simply a growing pain as more people choose to live downtown – but some residents feel it's a sound that is part of living in an urban centre.
"It is probably a safety precaution more than anything. Other than that, maybe you shouldn't live in downtown Victoria," one resident told CTV News.
If council approves the motion, staff will begin researching alternatives, practices used in other city centres as well as costs associated with making the change.