St. John's, province in stalemate over motorcycle noise

Colin MacLean
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Deputy mayor asks riders to head out on the highway

St. John’s Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff addresses council Tuesday night during its regular weekly meeting. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

St. John’s says only the province has the authority to curb excessively loud motorcycles.

The province says this is something St. John’s can do on its own.

Herein lies the problem.

Deputy Mayor Shannie Duff told city council Tuesday night comments to this effect by Paul Davis, minister of Service NL, caused the offices of several councillors to get confusing phone calls from residents.

“We had quite a lot of reaction to the comments by the minister, that the City of St. John’s has the authority to proceed with enacting regulations to curb motorcycle noise,” said Duff.

As far as council is concerned, the minister is mistaken, she added.

“And I want to clarify that. ... We do not. We do not have the authority to enact regulations under the highway act and we do not have the authority to enforce them,” said Duff.

Davis has stated in media interviews his understanding of the situation is St. John’s has authority under the City of St. John’s Act to impose noise bylaws, and thus cover loud motorcycles — notably those with aftermarket tailpipes.

The minister has also said bringing in legislation would mean any noise ban would be provincewide, and this is essentially a downtown St. John’s issue only.

The city has stated changing the Highway Traffic Act is the right way to go, and would give the RNC (which is a provincial police force and so answers to the province and not the city) the authority to stop and test loud motorcycles.

Duff concluded the issue reached an impasse, so she took the step of appealing to motorcycle riders.

“So at the moment, since we seem to have reached a stalemate, I just wanted to appeal to motorcyclists, many of whom are very law-abiding and very considerate,” she said.

“... That if they really feel the need to go and accelerate and rev up and make a lot of noise to do it on the highway. Please have consideration to residents who have a right to peace and quiet,” she said.

Twitter: @TelegramMacLean

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Recent comments

  • Stephen Ford
    June 24, 2015 - 17:16

    I get a kick out of all the loud aggressive drivers. Bikes, cars and trucks. I live by the bottom of a Signal hill. Bikes here just get to loud. I don't know. Maybe that's all they have left to prove there man hood :) maybe they think loud means tough. Hey look at me.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    July 11, 2012 - 12:17

    If the Manufactors name is not on the exhaust system ( muffler ) it is an automatic sitation. Have a nice daty and thank you for stoping in a safe manner.

  • rider also
    July 11, 2012 - 10:08

    ..i find it rather ironic that ships in the harbor blasting their horns is considered a symphony but the sound of a bike is offensive , i would prefer the symphony of motorcycles over ships anytime .. i think we are being short sighted here and could learn a lesson from Digby N.S. .. the city should give thought to closing off Harbor Drive to any traffic ,other than motorcycles and pedestrians and allow food vendors to set up there etc.. would be such a beautiful place for bikers to gather from the province and for bikers from outside the province to meet new friends and share their passion for motorcycling .. imagine the sight of huindreds of bikes parked along the waterfront , riders and pedestrians in conversation and sharing laughter ,, sharing a coffee/light snack etc. ..would be a unique gathering place for the few short months of riding season ..traffic would then be routed away from the downtown residential areas.. let;'s not be so short sighted ....

    • That guy
      July 11, 2012 - 11:31

      This is not exclusively a downtown or motorcycle issue. There are people driving motocycles, muscle cars, daily drivers and pick-up trucks all with modified exhaust systems and they do it in all areas of the metro region. Someone with some balls stand up and tell it like it is. If I was running around the streets, standing next to you screaming at the top of my lungs while you were trying to sleep, relax in your yard or just wait for a red light, I would have be ticketed and/or arrested and no one would jump up to defend my right to do so because I don't have one. Why people think they have a right to disturb other peoples peace and quiet because it's a machine is beyond me.

  • G
    July 11, 2012 - 08:14 A municipal police force ENFORCING a noise by-law in Edmonton. Maybe St. John's should fund a city police force like every other major center in Canada? All you hear from St. John's residents is those people from Mount Pearl, Paradise, and CBS using OUR roads and payin' no tax to the City. Well, the City is using the Province's Police force and then complanin' that the Government should help the city police an issue for people eating on decks downtown. Even Mount Pearl has their own municipal police force. EVEN MOUNT PEARL!!! G

  • Gord
    July 11, 2012 - 07:53

    Its apparent that neither the province (Paul Davis) nor the city (Shannie Duff) want to do anything. Forget about appealing to delinquents who want to make noise with their motorcycles. The fact they have these noisy aftermarket pipes is evidence enough that they don't respect others. Why is it that our elected officials are so averse to doing their jobs. The city can enact legislation, and the province should enact the same rules to be consistent. Unfortunately, neither want to do anything except study the problem until everyone gets tired of waiting for something to get done.

    • Eli
      July 11, 2012 - 08:35

      Gord, it's a "complex issue" for Minister Paul Davis. Enough said about that. As for Shannie and those freeloading clods around the council table, any issue is complex for them. Just ask about their taxpayer funded pensions.

  • Michael
    July 11, 2012 - 07:14

    What a waste of time and effort. Leave the motorcyclists be... they only get a few months anyhow. And no, I don't ride.

    • Eli
      July 11, 2012 - 10:56

      But you are deaf, right?

  • NLFringe
    July 11, 2012 - 07:10

    First off, since this issue hit the news within the past two weeks, I have noticed a dramatic decrease in the racket some motorcycle enthusiasts need to make copious & unneccessary noise; thank you to those riders. Secondly, Davis...immitating an ostrich are we? "essentially a downtown issue" you say? Man you have no idea what goes on in this town. I live off Thorburn Rd, I can hear motocycle (& cheap car exhaust by the way) racket from the Parkway, Thorburn Rd, Kenmount Road, & the Team Gushe Highway at all hours of the night and day, I even get on the street of the subdivision I live in. I must be confused Paul, I thought the downtown area was actually downtown. Thirdly, Duffy, you have described the quintessential aspects of this issue in your last quote in the article. Alas the part about "do it on the highway" bit is NO salve for this, as I mentioned about the Team Gushe Highway, the ORR as well, are not far from many residential areas of the Metro area, while this might alleviate some portion it will only disrupt an added portion of the populice. However that should put into the jurisdiction of the RCMP & Dept of Highways Enforcement who do not seem to tolerate Highway Traffic Act infractions...could be onto something in the interim. I was driving east on the ORR yesterday, windows up, AC on as I came up on and passed a motorcyle with loud exhaust. Yes I could hear it through the passenger cabin until I passed, then it was as quiet as any other vehicle in my rearview. The war cry of motorcyclists who insist their loud pipes save lives are full of it. Im sure your detrimented hearing from the constant drone of your live-saving exhaust must be a delusion you've created to compensate & justify for it. But as indicated off the top of this article, different levels of "government" squabble & pass the buck until the public realizes once again we're prisoners of our own elected officials & accept that nothing will be done as usual. Enjoy that exhaust racket folks.

  • Brad
    July 11, 2012 - 06:36

    Neither side wants to be seen as the bad guy, by regulating the noise output. Neither side wants to tick off motorcycle entusiasts and loses potential votes for whenever each side is due for election. They'd rather pass the buck back and forth, and say the other can is responsible to enact any changes. All levels of government, ineffective as always.

    • Rider
      July 11, 2012 - 07:09

      Not only a downtown issue. Some rev up just in their driveways. The rule won't offend the sensible riders or affect their vote, and the idiot riders who rev up, probably don't vote anyway!

  • Ministers Ability
    July 11, 2012 - 06:33

    1st thousands of Bill 29 requests, now locomotive fuss. Does Minister Davis get any facts right. Wonder what his conviction rate was like in his old career. Time for new research staff for the minister, swallowing that pride is going to get harder before next election roles around