Toronto Air Show Stirs Controversy Over Noise, Calls for Tradition Reassessment Rise


In the heart of downtown Toronto, the distinctive hum and roar of aeronautical acrobatics have filled the skies, marking the annual International Air Show, a prominent component of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This longstanding spectacle, now in its 74th year, provides a powerful crescendo to the Exhibition, showcasing skilled pilots who execute an array of daredevil stunts and precise aerial manoeuvres in specialty aircraft. The low-flying planes deliver over three hours of electrifying performance daily, culminating on Labour Day.

However, while the vigorous aerial display may be a celebrated tradition for many Torontonians, it has been the subject of controversy among others, specifically concerning the noise level. Ingrid Buday, a data enthusiast and local resident, expressed her frustrations, having recorded the noise level reaching a peak of 110 dBZ – equivalent to the incessant blare of a police siren or an extended trombone performance.

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“The Air Show is an incredible display of technology and truly exhilarating. But the question remains: what is the cost? Both environmentally and personally, it may be high time to reassess this tradition. Using this event as a platform to showcase war machinery might not be much in favour at the moment,” she suggested.

Buday, with prior experience of logging noise emissions from illegal stunt driving, warned that the disruption may be more than just an annoyance for some residents. “The noise can have considerable effects on individuals suffering from mental ailments or PTSD. It is an unfair imposition on many by just a few,” she posited.

Buday, recognizing the importance of the event to some locals, nonetheless argued for a reassessment. “Many long-standing traditions can still be improved upon or superseded. We’ve seen fireworks displays evolve into drone shows. Possibly, there are better alternatives to our current format,” she proposed.

Expressing similar sentiments, a multitude of people have aired their grievances on social media platforms, like Twitter. Some lamented about the disturbance of their siestas, while others quipped about their predicament of not having a countryside retreat.

Sarah Doucette, a former city councillor, called for an end to years of jet fuel fumes and thunderous noise levels disturbing the peace. She empathized with newcomers from war-ravaged countries and expressed concern for the fear and discomfort elicited in pets and children.

Anita Presnyak and Anton Babych, Ukrainian immigrants residing near the CNE site, shared that some of their friends were deeply unsettled by the noisy spectacle due to lingering memories of war, even experiencing panic attacks triggered by the event. Presnyak also conveyed the anxious behaviour of her black dog, Pixel.

However, despite the detractors, the Air Show has a slew of staunch supporters, including aviation enthusiasts who derive immense joy from the event. Expressions of fond admiration for the fighter jets and delight over the loud noise underscored their support. A fan who travels to Toronto specifically for the event equated the experience to “something even better than Christmas”.

The appearance of the United States Navy Blue Angels was a particular highlight. Known for their mesmerizing blend of solo manoeuvres and coordinated airborne performances, their rare visit intrigued many spectators. One admirer praised: “Watching a variety of superior jet fighters is always a treat, but witnessing the Blue Angels is a truly rare and spectacular experience.”