By Dan Walton
A few noise complaints have been made about the new race track in town, Area 27, but the man at the helm says the upper limits of noise pollution were only briefly reached to complete a necessary experiment.
Until those loud noises were created from the site earlier this month, Area 27 president and general manager Bill Drossos said there was no way of measuring the particular acoustics in the valley. During that test period, while the engines were roaring from the race track, those loud sounds were being recorded from several areas around the vicinity of Oliver.
With the raw data now being analyzed, the track will be able to keep decibel levels at a reasonable level by requiring drivers to apply specific adjustments to their mufflers. It is possible to install sound barriers around the track, but that would come at a substantial cost, Drossos said, whereas the simple measure of tuning a muffler is essentially cost free.
Once accurate muffler restrictions are in place, the only noise Area 27 will produce, he said, will be weaker than the sounds of farming operations that have long been a part of the Okanagan.
Hand-held sensors will be installed on the track to detect if a car is making too much noise. In the event that one is being too loud, the driver will be flagged and then instructed to quiet their car before using the track again.
There’s a degree of subjectivity regarding noise complaints in the regional district. While many jurisdictions allocate measurable limits of sound, Area C only has a bylaw vaguely stating that nobody can create noise “which disturbs, or tends to disturb, the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood, or of persons in the vicinity.”
Previously, complaints about the noise from Area 27 have been lodged with the Osoyoos Indian Band. But during a job fair last month in Oliver, Chief Clarence Louie said he welcomes the noise.
“Giving you peace and quiet doesn’t provide jobs for my people,” is Louie’s response to complaints.
In an earlier Chronicle article about noise at Area 27, Steve Bicknell shared a similar sentiment.
“The noise is not that bad. I live five minutes from it and it doesn’t bother me at all and they’re following the town’s guidelines for noise pollution,” he said. “You’re allowed to make noise after 7 am up until 11 p.m. Let’s not make this a negative thing for our community; the new changes that have happened in the last couple years are very positive for our community. These changes are for the good; let’s stay positive, people.”