Case Study: Port of Vancouver Noise Monitoring Program

About This Project

Managed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the Port of Vancouver comprises over 350 kilometers of shoreline, 1,000 hectares of land, and 16,000 hectares of water. From Roberts Bank in the south to Burrard Inlet in the north, this area borders 16 municipalities, and the traditional territories and treaty lands of several First Nations.


The Port is a major economic contributor in Canada: Over 147 million tonnes of cargo passed through in 2018. To facilitate this much activity, the Port operates all day, every day. Trucks, trains, and tenant operations need to keep pace. But such levels of transportation and operational activity can be noisy. The Port has grown over the years, and so have neighbouring communities. This ups the potential for Port-related noise to affect businesses and homes in surrounding areas.


Between 2013 and 2015, the Port installed 11 permanent noise monitoring terminals (NMTs) along the north and south shores of Burrard Inlet and at Roberts Bank to measure Port-related noise in nearby communities and address community noise concerns. BKL was involved in the planning process to advise on selecting appropriate NMT locations along the new Low Level Road. The NMTs continually log sound data in or near communities potentially affected by noise from the Port.


In 2014, the Port wanted to better interpret the data it was collecting. The Port approached BKL and together they further developed the long-term noise monitoring program.


Scope of services

BKL worked with the Port to configure the NMTs, establish relevant noise metrics, set up noise alerts, export and analyze data, model noise in the community, and produce quarterly and annual reports.


BKL developed a unique one-number metric known as the Port Noise Rating (PNR) so the Port could better understand the significance of measured noise levels at each NMT. The PNR relates measured sound levels and potential impacts to surrounding communities based on detailed 3-D noise modelling and recent census data. The PNR allows the Port to interpret the reams of data gathered at the NMTs and understand how Port-related noise fits into the greater soundscape of each community. BKL identifies anomalies and trends in the noise data and keeps the Port apprised of issues, as well as opportunities to further improve the noise monitoring methodology or accuracy of the PNR.


Project benefits

In this ongoing project, BKL shares technical advice and best practices with Port staff operating the program and guides them in managing noise data and observing changes in noise levels. The firm also delivers quarterly reports and annual summaries, and helped the Port establish a system to deal with noise complaints. What’s more, BKL developed supporting documentation for Port operations staff and key messaging for each NMT for the Port’s website.


By creating a one-number metric, the PNR, BKL gave the Port an effective and efficient way to interpret the data from its noise monitoring program—despite the complexity of Port-related noise. The metric helped the Port meet its goals in setting up this long-term monitoring program and continues to provide an efficient way to track long-term patterns and understand how Port noise affects nearby communities.


Project Name:

Port of Vancouver Noise Monitoring Program

Year Completed:


Permanent Noise Monitoring Terminals:


Unique Metrics Developed:


Case Studies, Government Services, Ports & Marine, Transportation & Infrastructure
Baseline Noise Monitoring, Cadna/A Noise Modelling, Compliance Assessment, Environmental and Community Noise, Land Use Assessment, Noise & Vibration Management Plans