Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009 has come and gone. Our letter to Santa to please stop the Noise from bothering us must have gotten lost in the mail. The Noise has been louder than ever. Any comments from other areas would be most welcome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ranchlands Mail Out

The Ranchlands Community Association has again graciously provided help, along with the Ranchlands Scouting Organization in our Noise Investigation - thank you! Ranchlands residents received a special printing of the Noise Questionnaire in their mailboxes during these last 2 weeks.

Residents living in other sectors of the City who are interested in the Noise Questionnaire, feel free to contact us either through this blog space,, or

We are interested in setting up a method through which people are able to share anecdotal observations of the Noise, such as intensity, time of day, and date, on-line. If there is anyone with expertise doing this, we'd luv to hear from you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Questionnaire Being Delivered Again

The Noise Questionnaire is again being delivered to Ranchlands residents. "Thank you" to the publishing group and the Ranchlands Community Association for making this happen!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Investigation, Not Conclusions

Some gentle thoughts to those suffering from an unidentified noise in their homes:

1. Be mindful of jumping to conclusions. Any investigation can be derailed by getting distracted & focused on one theory, or idea. The collection and analysis of hard data is very important.

For example (and the example is a bit dramatic for effect), imagine the embarrassment a person might feel, publicly stating the noise they're hearing is being caused by some secret military activity, only to discover that the pipes leading into their house are vibrating in their walls. Rule out the obvious :-)

2. Similar noise, different source. This can be a tough one to get one's head around sometimes (especially if the noise is keeping you awake!). We are considering that while the Noise we're hearing may sound the same as a noise being heard elsewhere, there may be very different causes of the same type of sound.

3. Be objective with observations. People being bothered from an unidentified noise are asked to write down what they notice, when they notice it, and at what times. An example:
- Oct 16, woken up at 4:14 AM by a low hum sound, intensity level 8/10.
> 7:30 AM, left for work, intensity level 1/10.
> 10:51 PM, low humming noise started, intensity level 6/10.
- Oct 17, quiet all day.
- Oct 18, quiet until 5:00 PM, low hum started, intensity level 5/10.
> went to bed 10 PM, intensity level 5/10.
- Oct 19, turned on furnace fan; didn't want to be bothered by the Noise.
Please note, the above is only an example. But, it does provide an exemplar of what an objective, anecdotal observation can look like.

4. Follow the scientific method. We are with our investigation. There are many definitions of what the scientific method is. One such definition of this can be found at:

5. Expect to be part of the solution. Help is available. With regards to our investigation, we just ask that you be willing to put in some effort, too. There are many ways to help out, just ask :-)

6. Go visit your neighbours. Consider asking around & seeing if others are being bothered by the same kind of noise that's bothering you. Stop in at each other's places and listen - is it the same in both places?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Latest Article for the Ranchlands Round Up

Enclosed is a copy of the latest article on the Noise for the Ranchlands Round Up...


The Noise problem many Ranchlands residents are experiencing was brought up during the Ranchlands Community Association's Annual General Meeting, held on September 30. Dana Negrey, the resident who brought the Noise problem to the attention of the Community Association was present, as was Dr. Marcia Epstein of the University of Calgary and Richard Patching, Acoustical Engineer, Patching & Associates.

Dr. Epstein's interest in the Noise problem stems from her research pertaining to the effects of noise on people. Her research has led to her gaining considerable experience with noise investigations like this. Part of the process in finding a solution to the Noise problem is Dr. Epstein receiving filled in questionnaires on the Noise. These were first published in the August edition of the Ranchlands Round Up. Dr. Epstein said that, ideally, she would be able to receive questionnaires from everyone living in Ranchlands, indicating whether or not they are hearing the Noise, and if they are, to what degree.

Richard Patching has 31 years experience as an Acoustical Engineer and had literally been around the world conducting noise investigations and implementing solutions. Richard stated that a key element of this investigation is hearing from as many people as possible to begin getting a picture of where the Noise is being heard, and where it isn't. He also said that another key element is being able to take his recording instruments into homes to gain important data.

The recordings are not typical sound recordings. The recorders are specifically set up to record low-frequency sound, its duration, its intensity, and its frequency. The equipment is not set up to record speech or anything like that. A typical recording involves Richard and the homeowner agreeing on a time for the equipment to be set up. The equipment normally consists of a tripod, a microphone, a recording device about the size of a box of macaroni and cheese, and two cords. Ideally, the equipment can be set up in an unobtrusive place in the house for about 5 days. Richard uses a second recorder, a hand-held device, while setting up the other equipment. Residents concerned with privacy issues are assured that the recordings will only be used in reference to the Noise investigation, and Richard is offering residents the original recordings once he is done with them.

Dana has been collecting information and coordinating the investigation with Richard and Dr. Epstein, along with the Ranchlands Community Association. Dana's home was one of the first Richard recorded in. The recordings supported what Dana had been reporting earlier, namely that there was an unknown low frequency sound being heard at various volume and intensity levels, at constant yet infrequent intervals, in his family's home. The recordings noted a 40 Hz hum corresponding to Dana's observations.

Additional research is providing valuable leads, and will hopefully assist in resolving this problem soon. One particular item of note for residents: even though an individual is not hearing the Noise, it doesn't necessarily mean the Noise isn't present in their house. Richard Patching explained this further, describing how each person's individual physical make up and hearing can determine whether or not they can hear the Noise. This is another reason why it is important for Richard's equipment to record in as many houses as possible.

It is anticipated that after the recordings are taken, listened to, and analyzed, and once the questionnaires have been received, read and analyzed, that it will be possible to physically map out where the Noise is being heard, and where it's not. Subsequent steps can be planned after that.

Dr. Epstein, Richard and Dana, along with the Ranchlands Community Association, and some august members of the community are volunteering their time to work on this Noise problem. The investigation is big and as such, takes time. For instance, the recording equipment, also being volunteered by Richard's company, must be booked in advance by Richard. At the same time Richard must schedule appointments with individual residents. This action alone takes quite a while to coordinate and put in effect.

The Noise investigation is being followed by local and national news services. Last spring, Dana, Terry Avramenko, RCA President, and Owen Watson, resident, were interviewed by CBC TV News, CBC Radio News, CBC's Eyeopener, CTV Calgary News and City TV. The interest continued, with CBC Radio, CBC TV, and City TV conducting interviews and providing coverage of the September 30 AGM. News coverage was extended with Jim Brown of the Calgary Eyeopener speaking to Dr. Epstein, Terry being interviewed by Rob Breakenridge on CHQR AM 770, and Dana being interviewed locally by CTV Calgary News and nationally on the CBC radio show "As It Happens".

It would be possible to speed up the investigation if more manpower is provided, and/or additional assistance given. Unfortunately, the Alderman's Office is not prepared to help, stating the City deems the matter closed. Lindsay Blackett, MLA, has said he would see what his office could do to help. In the meantime, any Ranchlands resident with experience locating noise, working with sound, tabulating data, knowing how to seek funding, able to fill in a questionnaire, have recordings done at their place, and/or be able to keep a note on their calendars about what they notice about the Noise, please let the Association know at 403-241-0335.

Residents who may have missed the questionnaire can contact Dr. Epstein directly via email at A time can be set up to record with Richard Patching via email at Residents who do not have access to email can contact Dr. Epstein and Richard through the Community Association (241-0335). Residents experiencing Noise concerns can also send an email to

Citizens concerned by this Noise issue are encouraged to contact both the Civic and Provincial levels of government. Alderman Gord Lowe's contact infomation is / 403-241-5908; the Honourable Lindsay Blackett's (MLA) contact information is / 403-216-5444.

Noise problems are shared on-line at  “” – type the address without spaces into your web browser, removing the quotation marks before and after.

Friday, October 2, 2009


The Noise problem is garnering national attention. It was featured on CBC RAdio's "As It Happens" this evening (Oct 2). The podcast can be heard at:

A sincere "Thank you" to CBC for providing this coverage.

The problem is also being featured today on Sympatico/MSN's home page (screen shot attached)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Thank you to everyone who attended the Ranchlands Annual General Meeting. The topic of the Noise problem was discussed. More details will follow within the next few days.

CBC Radio and TV News covered the meeting, as did City TV. The CBC article can be read at:

If the above link does not work, please copy and paste in a new browser window.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ranchlands Community Assoc Meeting Sep 30

The Noise problem with be on the Agenda at the Ranchlands Association Annual General Meeting being held on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, at the Ranchlands Community Centre starting at 7:15 PM. The meeting is open to all residents of Calgary having problems with the Noise issue.

Scheduled to be at the meeting include Alderman Gord Lowe, M.L.A. Lindsay Blackett and M.P. Diane Ablonczy.

Please come out in support and provide the City, Provincial and Federal representatives the understanding that this Noise problem is affecting a great number of people & needs to be addressed & resolved.

Friday, September 11, 2009

CTV News Follow Up Sep 10, 2009

CTV Calgary News ran a follow-up story on the Noise problem on Sep 10, 2009. It can be viewed at:

If the above link is not working, please copy and paste into a new browser window. The link was still active as of Sep 24.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Questionnaire on Noise

There have been some progressive steps taken in our Noise search. In this month's Ranchland's Round Up, a noise questionnaire is being circulated for residents of Ranchlands and other Northwest residents. The questionnaire is part of the research project into the Noise being conducted by University of Calgary's Dr. M. Epstein and Richard Patching. Residents reading this blog who are bothered by unidentified noise are encouraged to fill out and return the questionnaire. Those without access to the Ranchlands Round Up may contact Dr. Epstein at:

Preliminary recordings done by Richard Patching are providing hard evidence of the Noise. Richard is willing, and hoping to come to individual resident's homes and take recordings as part of the effort to identify the humming noise's source.

SUCCESS STORY: Two Calgary residents who were bothered by a constant low-frequency humming noise have had it stopped! In both cases, the cause was related to the Water Department. Please be sure to let us know if you've had a problem with an unidentified noise that has been resolved.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Green Power Box Humming Loudly - A Clue?

During the last few days, the green electrical box located across the alley behind our house has been humming very loudly. The volume the noise is at is such that if two people were standing beside it they would have difficulty holding a conversation. One night, the loud noise emanating from the green box persisted until 2:15 AM when it just stopped. It was like a switch was thrown. There was no noise coming from the box for the rest of the night/morning. However, the following day, the green box was again humming as loudly as it was a few hours before.

Is this a piece of the puzzle? If so, what does it mean? More questions needing answers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recordings done over a few days

As part of the investigation spearheaded by the U of C into this noise, we had recording devices set up here at our place in Ranchlands this week. We are very keen to see the interpretation given the recordings by the noise researcher, particularly as at one instance, the noise was very strong in our house.

We will post the findings in the next short while.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

CBC Calgary News

CBC Radio News and TV News covered the noise issue this week. The print version & links to the radio and TV versions can be found at:

You may have to copy and paste the above link into a new browser window. The link was still active as of Sep 24.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Updates Coming Soon

There will be a CBC Radio News coverage of the noise problem within the next week or two. Additionally, a research group from the U of C plans to conduct a study on how noise affects people. They will be helping us locate and identify the noise in Ranchlands.

Within the last week, the noise in our neighbourhood has significantly increased in intensity. It is perplexing. What could now be running, that was not running before, to cause this problem? We are hoping to have some answers, soon.

More Ranchlands residents are being in touch to tell their story of being bothered by the low-frequency humming. Coincidentally, many people noticed the noise starting at about the same time.

Keep an ear out for the CBC Radio spot airing as soon as next week. An updated post will be published here, soon afterwards.

Feel free to be in touch either here with a comment, or via email at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Noise Proving More Than April Fools

The noise was thankfully absent for most of March in Ranchlands. However, it started again, with renewed power, in the last week of the month and has been plaguing us continually ever since.

Two changes that coincide with the resurgence of the noise are the additional work being done on the condominium building in our neighbourhood, and the lights going on at the new Crowfoot LRT station. These likely are coincidences in and of themselves; but, perhaps the activation of power at these sites may be a clue as to the cause of this bothersome noise.

The Ranchlands Community Association has been gracious in allowing an article on noise problems to run in the community newsletter, the Ranchlands Round Up. The articles have generated considerable response (including the CTV News spot), and prove to be a worthwhile way to communicate with the community.

Members of other communities have been following the articles, too. Members of communities from other Northwest neighbourhoods, neighbourhoods in the SouthEast and in the SouthWest are reporting seemingly identical noise problems as the low-frequency one we are dealing with in Ranchlands. Are they related?

Anyone from other neighbourhoods who are interested in generating a community response may well consider contacting their respective community organizations. There may be more people out there having to deal with similar noise problems that we are not aware of. It would be good to hear from as many people as we can.

Those interested in running an article in their neighbourhood newsletters who would like some advice, feedback, or a friendly word on how to do so, feel free to be in touch - Help, or at the very least an empathetic ear, is just a couple clicks away.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Suggestions if you are hearing noise

There has been quite a bit of activity since CTV News aired the spot about the humming noise being heard in our house and neighbourhood. Thank you for the messages!

Some suggestions to those of you who are living with unidentified noise in your house:

1. Call 3-1-1 and explain the situation.
2. Call each of the utility companies:
- Enmax
- Atco
- Calgary Waterworks & Sewer
3. Call 3-1-1 and ask to speak to a Bylaw Officer.
4. Call your Alderman, explain the situation & request assistance.
5. Call your Community Organization, explain the situation & request assistance.

Please send an email to, too. Help is just a click away! Please let others know how things are going.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Power problem?

Recently spoke with someone in another part of Calgary who is experiencing a similar noise problem as we are. In fact, they moved from one house to another, only to discover that the noise is in their new house, too.

They've done some investigative work, too, and have learned some interesting things: in their house, the EMF levels are considerably higher than normal. This was, in fact, confirmed for them by Enmax. Unfortunately, Enmax has taken no definitive steps to address the problem.

A suggestion has been made that the noise is caused by power installation going in "too fast" to match our growing city. That's not in my field of expertise, but comments and feedback would be most welcome.

More info to be posted, soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

City of Calgary No Longer Involved

Our Alderman's Office has said that the City of Calgary will no longer be involved in trying to determine the source of the noise. The City's actions were to replicate those taken previously by the homeowner with the various utility companies. The Alderman told us that the steps needed to be replicated before taking steps beyond what had already been done. The Alderman said that this needed to be done in order to definitively rule out, in the Alderman's mind, that our house was in fact the cause of the noise we are hearing. He said after than, we would be able to explore further options.

The Alderman stated that various utility workers have reported to him that yes, they hear the noise, but they do not know what is causing it, or where it is from. The workers also determined for the Alderman that the noise is not being generated by anything in our house.

The Alderman stated that despite these reports, he feels the City cannot offer anything more to assist. He was asked why, if this is a noise issue, it was not being addressed as a noise issue. The reply was that the City only has access to support pertaining to noise and traffic issues.

Interestingly enough, because the City does not know where the noise is coming from, it very well could be a traffic issue.

Building and Planning Not Involved

The supervisor for Building and Planning listened with genuine concern about the noise issue happening here. However, they are unable to help. Their scope of influence does not include locating and identifying noise. They are responsible for granting permits, making sure buildings adhere to legal codes, and such.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building and Planning to be Involved

The Alderman's Office contacted us to let us know that Calgary Building and Planning will be in touch with us. The noise continues to bother us, and our neighbours. We are concerned that we do not know what it is, and what the implications of it are (health, safety, etc).

It seems odd, given this noise has been bothering us for so long, that the City has not sent out sound engineers with the proper equipment to locate where this is coming from. It seems logical that if a noise is being bothersome in this way, and is proving elusive to locate, the proper course of action would be to send out sound engineers whose job it is to find noise sources. To me, it would be most cost effective, and time effective: track the noise down using the right tools and people for the job, then address the issue directly based on the findings.

My understanding from the City is that they do work with sound engineers, for example, with respect to road noise complaints. I have spoken at length with two sound engineering companies who have experience tracking down noise, and finding solutions for noise problems. One would think that a city such as Calgary would have access to professionals such as this.

We will be discussing this point with the Alderman in the next short while.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brief History of Some Steps Taken

We are still dealing with an obtrusive noise in our house. The noise that we hear in our house sounds like a "hum" that can be so intense, it seems like the house walls should be vibrating. This situation is something we have been dealing with since July, 2008. Our neighbours to the left and right of us have also noticed the noise. All three of us have called the Alderman's Office to get some help.

The steps taken to identify, locate and stop this sound include:

1. Enmax
Enmax has sent troubleshooting linemen to the house 3 times. The first lineman came to the huse in July and disconnected the house from the city's power grid. This determined that the cause of the noise was not an electrical one from our house; when the power was cut off to our house, the noise was still plainly audible. The lineman who was here in July was able to hear the noise. He and his partner went to the Telus switching station in Arbour Lake and noticed the same sound coming from that building as we are hearing in our house.
After much prodding from the Alderman's office, Enmax returned in November to install monitors on our house, and at the green box that regulates power in our immediate area. The lineman who installed and removed these monitors heard the noise and commented that it sounded similar to what he hears when he is swimming underwater at an indoor pool. Other Enmax linemen have been less than cooperative, claiming that the noise is caused by whirlygigs on top of people's houses, or by wind blowing through the soffit - this doesn't explain "why" we hear the noise on quiet days, however.
The district supervisor for Enmax has been very cooperative, and took quite a few steps towards helping us with this problem. He was also very helpful on the phone and with suggestions.

ATCO has been to the house 3 times: once in July, once in December and once in January. They've determined there are no gas leaks in and around our house, have come into the house to listen to the noise, and have replaced our gas meter. The trouble-shooting team that came to the house, and the district supervisor from ATCO have been also quite cooperative.
ATCO has stated that they believe that based on their investigations, they are of the opinion that the noise is being caused by something electrical.

3. City of Calgary Fire Department
The Fire Department came to our house in July to determine that our house was safe to be in. Three of the four firemen who came to our house heard the noise, but were at a loss as to what it was.

4. City of Calgary Bylaw
A Bylaw Officer came to our house in August. He used a decibel meter to measure the sound. His meter determined that the sound was within 'legal limits'. Although, he admitted, this did not mean that the noise was causing a great deal of discomfort for us.
***Added Jan 13*** The Bylaw Officer admitted that a decibel meter, such as the City assigns him to use, is likely not the correct one to use in a situation like this. The noise varies in intensity, and when the Bylaw Officer was at our house to take his measurement, the noise was actually faint. It would have been interesting to have him over to take the reading when the noise was at a more intense level.

5. Telus
On five different occasions, at five different times of day (early afternoon, evening, late evening, night, late night and early morning) in July I 'followed' the sound to the Telus switching station in Arbour Lake. I spoke with a district manager, an engineer and an on-site technician. They told me that at the station, in late-June and early July, Telus increased the number of industrial sized A/C units from four to six. All were operational starting in July.

6. Shaw
Shaw Cable said that they do not have any devices that could cause a noise such as we are hearing installed in our neighbourhood or close to our home.

7. City of Calgary Water Services
Water Services came to our house in July, and again in November. The responders who came in November were much more helpful and interested in seeing if they could locate the noise. They used two different monitors to listen to the water lines at our house, and along our street. They were not able to hear the noise we are hearing when they were here.

8. City of Calgary Sewer Services
I spoke to this department in July. They told me on the phone that there was not anything that they had in our area that could cause this noise. I mentioned that it sounded like a large electric pump running under our house.

9. Sound engineering/noise isolation company
A sound engineer company came to our house in September with a spectrum analyzer. The engineer said that he personally was not able to hear the noise; however, the device registered a noise at 125 Hz. The engineer stated that at this frequency, a noise is commonly man-made and not as a result of nature.

10. City of Calgary Planning and Development
I spoke to the Panning and Development Department in September to ask if there was anything they might know about that could be causing this noise. They were not able to come up with anything specific, but mentioned that there was an electrical sub-station for the new LRT line within a few blocks of our street. They also suggested that we should look around for anything "suspicious" such as large antennas.

11. Industry Canada
I phoned and spoke with Industry Canada in July to ask if radio frequencies could be causing this noise. I was told there wasn't. However, since speaking to Industry Canada, I've spoken to a second sound engineer who has told me that long wave radio frequencies can in fact cause a noise such as we're hearing.

12. City of Calgary 3-1-1
We've spoken to various 3-1-1 operators. All have been good listeners, and have been able to recommend various city departments for us to talk to.

13. City of Calgary Police
After speaking with a dispatch officer about the situation, he did not believe that the situation warranted a police response. He did provide information about what to look for that could be an illegal operation, such as a grow-op.

More information will be posted in the next short while. Any thoughts, suggestions, and/or feedback is most welcome either here, or via email at

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Email contact:

The noise has continued on and off in our Ranchlands area during the Christmas Season.

A recent article in the Ranchlands Round Up pointed to this blog as being a place to share ideas & concerns regarding this continuing issue.

Some people may be more comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas via email. Please feel free to be in touch at

All the best to everyone in 2009! Here's to a noise-free year :-)