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History and Mission

The Right to Quiet Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1982 as a charitable organization with the mission of raising public awareness of the detrimental effects of noise on health; promoting awareness of noise pollution and the dangers of noise to our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing; working for noise reduction through better regulation and enforcement; encouraging responsible behaviour regarding noise; advocating for manufacturing quieter products; and fostering recognition of the right to quiet as a basic human right, rather than as an amenity for the affluent.

Thanks to the efforts of the Society, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation designated three beaches as quiet areas. Right to Quiet was instrumental in persuading the Vancouver City Council to implement restrictions on construction work, such as no work on Sundays and holidays. Right to Quiet helped set up and served on an Urban Noise Task Force in Vancouver that established 165 recommendations related to noise control. And on the provincial level, Right to Quiet participated in planning for ecological reserves in a rural area designated to be free of anthropogenic noise, including aircraft, with the exception of emergency and rescue operations.

Over the years, Right to Quiet has donated over 600 books to libraries throughout British Columbia, including Listen to the Raindrops, The Book of Noise, Stillness, Daily Gifts of Solitude, One Square Inch of Silence, and In Pursuit of Silence. In 2018, we donated 20 copies of the In Pursuit of Silence DVD to libraries in British Columbia; the film draws inspiration from the book.

Right to Quiet officers have:

  • Given interviews on radio and television, and in print media
  • Met with a car sharing company regarding practices to reduce environmental noise
  • Worked with Edmonton leadership to reduce sound levels from vehicles with modified mufflers
  • Written blog posts, editorials, and letters to editors, and engaged with print and social media
  • Met with a member of US Congress to review policy on acoustic vehicle alerts
  • Met with a policy analyst at Consumers Union to discuss policy on acoustic vehicle alerts
  • Presented research findings at scientific meetings related to vehicle alerts and the soundscape
  • Participated in environmental events and trade shows in Vancouver, New York City, and elsewhere
  • Engaged with elected leaders and other stakeholders at public meetings related to a range of noise issues
  • Written to car manufacturers and trade associations about the health effects of nonessential noise

Our Board of Directors

John Martyn
Karl Raab
Nicole Pan
Arline Bronzaft
David Sadoway

John Martyn, President
Owner of JPM Tree Service providing tree care for commercial properties, and consulting arborist in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and beyond.

Karl Raab, PhD, Vice-President
Research biochemist, environmental health consultant, technical translator (bio-medical, legal, music) in Canada, United States, France, and Germany.

Nicole Pan, Treasurer
Senior financial analyst, mother of two teenaged girls and a Mini-Schnauzer, and cello player, with interests in raising awareness of noise pollution.

Arline Bronzaft, PhD, Director at Large
Environmental psychologist and long-term researcher and writer on the effects of noise on mental and physical health. Lives in New York City, serves on Board of GrowNYC, and has served as an advisor to five of the city’s mayors. Born to a Canadian mother.

David Sadoway, PhD, MRM, BES (Hons), Member at Large
Faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the Department of Geography and the Environment and the Department of Policy Studies.  Doctorate in Urban Planning and Design at University of Hong Kong.   Postdoctoral research on noise pollution in Singapore (NTU) and studies of infrastructure politics in India (Concordia/Montréal).  Currently interested in how planning can advance (or undermine) environmental justice, including sonic justice.