FILE - Boating is a popular activity at Sylvan Lake, and Transport Canada is looking into addressing concerns about loud boat engines. (Photo by BLACK PRESS)

FILE - Boating is a popular activity at Sylvan Lake, and Transport Canada is looking into addressing concerns about loud boat engines. (Photo by BLACK PRESS)

Transport Canada seeks public input on noisy boats

Loud boat engines a growing problem for Sylvan Lake and others

Summer villages in Alberta have joined the call to reduce motorboats noise on Alberta’s lakes.

The Association of Summer Villages of Alberta (ASVA) is a member of Decibel Coalition, a national group that wants to see decibel limits on motorboats to solve the noise problem on Canada’s lakes.

Transport Canada recently launched public consultations to address noise the pollution, and Decibel Coalition wants people to make their concerns known, as well as send letters to their elected officials.

Canadians have until May 13 to participate online at Let’s Talk Small Vessels Noise Emissions.

Mike Pashak, a councillor for the Summer Village of Half Moon Bay and ASVA board president, said over the last few years engine noise has been an issue for Sylvan Lake.

“For a lot of these newer boats, the exhaust is above the water line so it can be quite noisy,” Pashak said.

“The big lakes like Sylvan, Pigeon, Wabamun and Lac Ste. Anne, they’re all experiencing similar issues.”


Sylvan Lake water level within normal range

Decibel Coalition was formed in 2019 by Safe Quiet Lakes which has focused on making Ontario’s Muskoka lakes safer.

The coalition, a group of over 65 associations and municipalities in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, says motorboat noise is a growing problem adversely affecting wildlife, humans, and the enjoyment of our country’s waterways.

Surveys and petitions in provinces across the country show substantial support for introducing decibel limits similar to what has existed in the United States and Europe for more than 20 years, says the coalition.

Gary Milne, who used to live in Sylvan Lake and is a member of the Decibel Coalition task force, said sound is amplified at Sylvan Lake because of the local topography.

“At Sylvan Lake, you can actually hear a loud boat crossing that lake for quite some time,” said Milne who now has a cottage on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia, and is chair of the Shuswap & Mara Lakes Decibel Coalition Society.

He said noisy boats are a challenge for anyone trying to have a conversation and can escalate quickly to damage hearing.

“Not only do these boats get loud, they get louder as they go faster. And as they go faster they become a bit of safety concern for kayakers, canoeists, or anyone else.”


14-year-old swims the width of Sylvan Lake

Current regulations require small vessels to have mufflers, or have through-the-propeller exhaust, but does not include decibel limits on noise emissions.

The coalition would like the regulations updated so both manufacturers and operators must make sure their vessels don’t exceed noise-emission levels.

Pashak said hopefully the coalition has grown enough that Transport Canada will listen and make some changes to the regulations.

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