Friday, November 3, 2023

AANViS Gears Up to Shape Alberta's Noise Regulations

Municipalities across Alberta are grappling with the complexities of managing noise pollution, often facing challenges in decision-making for regulatory approvals. Simultaneously, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) is in the process of amending Rule 012. Despite multiple iterations and a dedicated meeting, the proposed amendments are yet to reach an optimal state.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive and effective approach, AANViS believes that its members and board are uniquely positioned to contribute valuable insights to enhance noise and vibration regulations in Alberta. We are reaching out to our members to gather input and expressions of interest on the following critical matters:

1.       Proposing a Unified Alberta Noise and Vibration Policy:

AANViS aims to present to the province a consolidated noise and vibration policy that transcends operations and sources, offering an improved and streamlined version of existing regulations.

2.       Interim Measures: Comments on AUC Rule 012 Amendments:

As an interim measure, AANViS is actively seeking comments and input on the proposed amendments to AUC Rule 012. Your perspectives will play a pivotal role in refining the regulations.

3.       Sharing Best Practices:

AANViS invites members to share any successful or innovative practices they've implemented in the absence of local bylaws or municipal policies. Your experiences could pave the way for effective solutions.

Get Involved - Your Input Matters:

If you are an active AANViS member passionate about shaping Alberta's acoustics, noise, and vibration landscape, we encourage you to get involved. Your insights and expertise can resonate throughout the industry, shaping a future where Alberta thrives in the right way.

Contact Us:

To express your interest, share your input, or get involved, please reach out to us at

Recreational noise puts residents in a pickle


As one of the fastest growing sports in Canada, pickleball is taking the country by storm - and the heartbeat of the game is making waves too. Invented in 1965 by an American congressman in Washington State, the upswing in pickleball contenders is reaching new heights, for more than one reason. With a striking resemblance to tennis, elements of ping-pong, and components of badminton, pickleball has captured the hearts and minds of 18-34 year olds, the fastest growing population in Canada for the sport. Traditionally a senior-dominated game, the rise of pickleball in popular culture is creating a wave of “firsts,” with more than one million people in Canada picking up rackets in 2022.

The spread of pickleball’s newfound contagion can be attributed to the game being inclusive for all skill levels, but allowing for players to choose their own adventure when it comes to the level of seriousness they wish to exude when hitting the courts. But while this 58 year old sport might be the greatest cheap thrill we’ve all been searching for - it isn’t being met with the same level of enthusiasm off the court. With an explosion of players, Canadian cities aren’t equipped with the courts required to meet demand. But this isn’t the main issue plaguing the picklers; the noise generated by the rackets is serving up some much bigger challenges.

Played with a racket or paddle sport, pickling the ball consists of two or four players hitting a perforated, hollow plastic ball over a 34-inch net, until one side is unable to return the ball or commits an infraction. Classified as an impulsive sound, the impact of a hard plastic ball on the paddles generates a jarring noise - comparable to the “grunts” you’d hear from renowned tennis champion Rafael Nadal while defending his reigning champ title at a Wimbledon tournament - just not as endearing. Near the most sensitive frequency range of human hearing, pickleball generates significant acoustic impacts on those living near the courts. Peak sound pressure levels from the courts at a distance of approximately 75 feet exceed 80 decibels. This is akin to heavy vehicle traffic or a noisy restaurant. 

According to acoustics experts, a pickleball paddle impacts easily penetrate the interior of a home or condominium and will prevent the quiet enjoyment of the residents' use of their living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, balconies, patios, and other spaces. Experts have also noted that constant exposure to high-decibel sound can seriously impact a person’s quality of life and mental state.

With no signs of slowing down, the rise of pickleball has created a divide between players and residents living in close proximity to the courts. As a result, complaints have materialised into court cases, fines and even bans. Most recently, a couple from Chilliwack, British Columbia have threatened to go on a hunger strike as a plea to the City to shut down the court located outside of their home. The husband likened the sound of the pickleball whap to Chinese water torture techniques used during high profile interogations.

Unlike the drop of a human tear, which makes no audible sound detectable by anything except for terriers and some brands of Pekingese dogs, pickleball will continue as a maddening hindrance to resident’s ear drums until court supply increases and proper sound barriers are implemented.

Until then, we hope avid picklers and residents can come to a place of compromise so that players can continue tickling their pickles, and neighbouring residents can live in peace, free of noise dill-emmas.

Edits by Chelsea Smyth

Eugene Bolstad turns 100


Eugene Bolstad turns 100


Eugene Bolstad was among the first, if not the first, consulting acoustic engineer in the province of Alberta.  He turns 100 years of age on September 18th of this year.

Eugene started his career in the field of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) as a “mechanical draftsman”, and soon found that there were few others locally looking into the acoustic aspects of this area.  He was a member of the American Society covering HVAC issues (which became the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering, aka ASHRAE).  He was a strong member and supporter of the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) as well as the Canadian Acoustical Association (CAA), helping host its annual conference three times.  He founded Bolstad Engineering operating from Edmonton and mentored many who subsequently found a niche in the fields of acoustics and noise control.

Eugene made to Corjan Buma many years ago about his motivation to get into acoustics and noise control which was “I designed all these noisy monsters [mechanical systems], so I figured I’d better DO something about that”. 

Eugene was also instrumental in expanding acoustical practices in Alberta.  He constructed the first ASHRAE-compliant acoustical testing lab in western Canada, which in the 1980’s was sold to the University of Alberta and operated as the Mechanical Engineering Acoustics and Noise Unit, providing acoustical testing services to academia and industry.  Several individuals made use of the Lab’s facilities to attain advanced degrees.  He participated in the early versions of the Noise Directive regulating energy-related noise in Alberta, which, to this day, is a frequently-referenced document well beyond Alberta’s borders.

Among other novel projects to his credit, Eugene designed a silencer to reduce the noise emissions from the blower on an asphalt mixing drum, and produced a simplified model for predicting the noise emissions from small compressor stations.  He assisted with introduction of noise walls along Edmonton roadways and with the control of noise propagation around Edmonton International Airport.

During the conferences of the Alberta Acoustics and Noise Association (“AANA”; the pre-cursor to AANViS), student scholarships were given for student presentations, and named in honour of Eugene.

We wish Eugene continuing good health and prosperity.