(Contributed photo.)

Sylvan Lake’s noise pollution needs to be jointly tackled by municipalities, says group

Studies find it’s disruptive to aquatic life, as well as people

Tired of thunderous powerboats and music blasting on Sylvan Lake, a local group wants municipalities to step in with noise pollution bylaws.

After several years of educating boaters about the damaging effects of excessive noise, residents are taking their fight to the next level. “As a community-based group, we can only do so much without municipal support,” concluded Kent Lyle, a Norglenwold resident, who chairs the Quiet Enjoyment Initiative of the Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society.

After the Oct. 16 municipal election, his group plans to ask the summer villages, the Town of Sylvan Lake and Counties of Lacombe and Red Deer to live up to their joint agreement, signed in 2000. The Sylvan Lake Management Plan requires each municipality to have a noise bylaw that’s enforced at boat launches.

Despite this stipulation, and federal regulations against excessive noise on waterways, “not one of (the local municipalities) has done anything,” said Lyle — even though boat launch muffler checks are being successfully carried out in B.C. to reduce noise on lakes.

The main noise problems are caused by boats without mufflers. With 300-horse power engines, they make loud 40-horsepower motorcycles seem like “wind-up toys,” said Lyle.

In recent years, wakeboard racks have been fitted with high-power speakers that also blast music across the lake. “Sometimes you’re hearing rap and hard rock and metal at the same time — it’s just a racket,” he added.

According to studies, noise pollution not only upsets cottage owners, anglers, sailors, swimmers and paddleboarders, it’s also ecologically disruptive to aquatic life and shorebirds. Lyle said, “Some animals have to hear to survive” by evading predators.

His group started an awareness campaign in 2016 by delivering more than 2,000 pamphlets to residences near Sylvan Lake, people at boat launches and a tourist booth. Last summer the focus switched to educating visiting boaters. The group also started a media campaign and Facebook page.

The committee now wants to work with municipalities that border the lake to “develop workable solutions” that can be applied to reduce noise pollution. The various councils will be asked to appoint a representative to the Quiet Enjoyment Initiative Committee.

Lyle said various options will be considered — such as having municipal bylaw officers tasked with noise enforcement. While the Sylvan Lake RCMP has a boat, he said it’s not often used for noise reduction purposes, so more effective measures are needed.


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