Letter: Tuned in to exhaust noise in Penticton

It is apparent the general public have a concern over this issue and the Ministry of Justice has responded.

The verdict is in regarding the case of unnecessary loud exhaust noise in the Province of British Columbia and, as a result, the police in the province have been provided guidelines on how to gather evidence the Crown can use to successfully prosecute the offender.

The problem with loud motorcycles is not new and over the years has been the subject of several court cases in the Province.  In an attempt to deal with the issue the Province amended the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, allowing the use of decibel readers; however, this technology proved to be more troublesome than an asset. It required the Crown prosecutor to devote considerable resources to have certification evidence of the device accepted in court for a successful conclusion for a simple loud or no muffler case.

In the last couple of years the Vancouver Police Service pioneered an initiative that did not necessarily solely rely upon a decibel metering device. In one of their cases, the trial Judge determined the evidence of the police officer’s sensory observations and experience coupled with other evidence was sufficient to convict the offender.

How do I know all this?  Here’s a side-bar that aligns my story with the saga of local newspapers attempting to get information from governments.   A few years ago I spoke personally with then Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton and he agreed there was a problem and there was nothing he could do as it was a provincial matter.  As he was of no use, I contacted the provincial government regarding enforcement statistics for the Penticton RCMP Detachment and initially was told I would have to file a Freedom of Information request. I appealed to then Attorney-General Coleman and finally he told me the Penticton RCMP had issued seven tickets over a two-year period. Mr. Coleman went onto say that the Penticton bylaw enforcement officers also have the authority to enforce loud vehicles.

The problem with loud motorcycles and other vehicles was also causing a province-wide concern and this was voiced through letters to the editor to newspapers leading to a 4,000 name petition from the west Kootenays to the government to do something about this issue.

I continued on my quest and wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice asking what they were going to do about the problem, but did not receive a reply.  Then Dan Ashton became my MLA, and was in a position to do something about this issue.  I wrote Mr. Ashton a letter reminding him of his comments: and I suggested that as my MLA he could do something about this. I never received a reply from Mr. Ashton.

Notwithstanding my MLA was of no value, I wrote to Premier Clark and copied her all the correspondence. She promptly answered and soon thereafter I received a full reply from the Ministry of Justice to the questions I raised — Mr. Ashton was not in the loop.

I was given an opportunity to speak to a senior official and I received a call from a representative of the Ministry of Justice who told me that all the police officers in B.C. have been issued guidelines that outline the measures to collect and provide evidence in court relating to unnecessary loud exhaust noise, based on the Vancouver Police Service experience and this guideline will be reinforced at municipal police and RCMP detachment levels.

This begs the question as to what is unnecessary loud exhaust noise? The answer will come next summer when we see what the police do when the noise tsunami invades B.C. It is apparent the general public have a concern over this issue and the Ministry of Justice has responded and now it is the duty of the police services and provincial judges to do their part. Stay tuned.

Murray Mason

Penticton