Councillor pushes city to target illegally modified mufflers
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A call to impose tougher penalties for illegally modifying vehicle mufflers to make them louder will be considered at Winnipeg city hall.
Several councillors have shared resident complaints in recent years such noise pollution hinders quality of life, especially for those who live near major traffic routes.
Coun. Markus Chambers’ new motion calls for council to ask the provincial government for “stronger fines and penalties” for vehicle owners who have altered their mufflers to create excessive noise, which violates Manitoba’s Highway Traffic Act.
In addition to higher fines, Chambers specifically wants the province to consider adding a penalty that would temporarily suspend registration for any vehicle an inspection determines to be illegally modified. The suspension would last until the vehicle is brought into compliance.
“Lots of people have been complaining with respect to the noise that modified mufflers create, impacting livability… People are saying it’s impacting their ability to sit in their backyards and have a quiet conversation with somebody as these cars are driving by… They have no purpose other than to create noise,” Chambers said Friday.
The motion says 248 vehicles inspected by Winnipeg Police Service for equipment and safety violations last year were cited for exhaust/muffler violations. Chambers said most were detected between May and September, when the “cruise scene” peaks.
The Highway Traffic Act prohibits vehicle owners from having missing or faulty vehicle equipment, such as excessively noisy mufflers, which can lead to a fine of $174.
Chambers said that fine alone doesn’t appear high enough to deter some drivers, so tougher penalties are needed for all vehicles with excessively loud mufflers, including motorcycles.
“If their vehicle is found to be loud… and it’s a modified muffler, suspend their registration until they can get it changed… If (that’s) going to reduce the amount of people that modify their mufflers and impact other people’s livability, it’s not going too far at all,” he said.
Coun. Cindy Gilroy, who previously pushed for the province to combat the excessive noise in her Daniel McIntyre ward, agrees a crackdown is warranted to ensure vehicles don’t disrupt residents who live near main routes, especially where “cruise nights” are common in the summer.
“Noise pollution in the city has become more of an issue. We need to make sure that people that are creating that noise on purpose… that we’re dealing with that issue,” said Gilroy.
Chambers’ motion will be considered by the Riel community committee Feb. 21.
A previous city effort to tackle vehicle noise failed in 2020, when the Manitoba government rejected a request to use photo radar enforcement to crack down on those with excessively loud mufflers and squealing tires. Such ticketing has been done in other cities, in conjunction with noise sensors.
A similar motion is headed to council later this month, which executive policy committee voted to take no action on earlier this week. A report to EPC notes the province has told the city that option won’t be explored.
In a November 2022 letter to the city, the provincial government notes it would explore increased penalties for illegal vehicle modifications, such as modified mufflers.
On Friday, a Manitoba Transportation spokesperson said that effort is still underway.
“Enforcing existing requirements for vehicles to have a muffler that prevents excessive combustion noise has been a challenge… We are currently working with stakeholders, including the City of Winnipeg police, to explore regulatory changes that would increase fines for individuals that continue to modify their muffler in a way that generates excessive noise,” the spokesperson said, in an emailed statement.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.