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The Decibel Coalition

The Decibel Coalition has been working to get regulatory change that will allow enforcement agencies to deal with boat operators who have excessively loud boats. The simple solution is to put limits the amount of noise that motors can make and implement the procedures to enforce it. This would give police the tools they need to help control excessively loud boats that affect the quiet enjoyment of our lakes.

The federal government, through Transport Canada (TC), had open consultations on these regulations in the spring of 2022 which closed on May 13, 2022.

We asked you to go to the TC “Let’s Talk” web page and weigh in on question 5:

The following text was given as a guide:

    • This is the only proposal that can realistically address excessive boat motor noise
      levels for both new and existing vessels.
    • They must be accompanied by internationally recognized decibel limits
      and efficient and effective enforcement procedures
    • Performance standards for manufacturers, importers and vessel operators will
      create clear, easy to understand, objective standards with decibel limits consistent
      with the USA and the EU.
    • Compliance costs for manufacturers and importers are minimal
    • Enforcement costs are low and are much lower than the current regulations

Want to Help Spread the Word?

You can write to your federal MP’s both at the cottage and at your fulltime residence asking them to support these regulatory changes. The Decibel Coalition has a tool to help you send the letters. Just click here and the letter will be generated for you with some basic information. It would be especially useful if you include the lake you are on and how these excessively loud boats affect you. Numbers matter to politicians and the more they hear about this problem the faster it will get addressed.

We want Transport Canada and our MP’s to get the message Loud and Clear!


Existing Legislation Does Not Include Decibel Limits?

Excessive boat noise is a pervasive problem on Canadian waterways. Unlike the USA and Europe, Canada does not currently have legislation to restrict excessive boat noise.

Safe Quiet Lakes started the Decibel Coalition to build grassroots national support to introduce new legislation on decibel limits and provide for efficient and effective means for enforcement. To date the Decibel Coalition has official support from a number of lake and cottage associations including GBA and Bayfield-Nares Islanders’ Association, seven municipalities including Township of Georgian Bay, Township of the Archipelago, Seguin Township, and NEMI (a full list of Coalition members can be found here). With this strong national support, Transport Canada has taken notice.

Decibel Coalition Proposed Legislation

The Decibel Coalition wants to expand the Canada Small Vessel Regulations (SOR/2010-91) to include decibel limits on motor noise from boats, noting that the law should be:

  • Easy to understand and easy to enforce
  • Based on international measurement standards and decibel levels
  • Consistent with USA and EU regulations/laws

How Loud is Too Loud?

If you drive by at speed, 200 feet from shore or more, and people sitting on shore find it hard to hear each other, or have to raise their voices to be heard, then your boat probably does not meet the proposed decibel limits. Experts generally agree that continued exposure to noise above 85 dB over time, will cause hearing loss. This legislation proposes the following limits:

    • SAE J2005 – Standstill: Proposed limit is 88 dB(AS) three feet behind your transom at idle
    • SAE J1970 – Pass-by: Proposed limit is 75 dB(AS) at pass-by at any distance, measured from shore

In a recent presentation to the Canadian Marine Advisory Council, Transport Canada offered potential options that could be implemented to limit excessive noise, including:

  • Improving the definition of “muffler” and modify/clarify requirements without adding performance standards
  • Introducing performance standards for boat manufacturers
  • Introducing performance standards for boats in the field
  • A combination of the above

How Can You Help?

  • Encourage your Association to become a Coalition member. Contact Rob Bosomworth ( for more information
  • Add your name to the Decibel Coalition’s petition here or write a letter to your MP. Details can be found above.

Additional Resources


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