This paper investigates the transformation of urban sound environments during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Canada. We report on comparisons of sound environments in three sites, before, during, and after the lockdown. The project is conducted in collaboration with the Montreal festival district (Quartier des Spectacles) as part of the Sounds in the City partnership. The analyses rely on continuous acoustic monitoring of three sites. The comparisons are presented in terms of (1) energetic acoustic indicators over different periods of time (Lden
), (2) statistical acoustic indicators (L10
), and (3) hourly, daily, and weekly profiles of sound levels throughout the day. Preliminary analyses reveal sound level reductions on the order of 6–7 dB(A) during lockdown, with differences more or less marked across sites and times of the day. After lockdown, sound levels gradually increased following an incremental relaxation of confinement. Within four weeks, sound levels measurements nearly reached the pre-COVID-19 levels despite a reduced number of pedestrian activities. Long-term measurements suggest a ‘new normal’ that is not quite as loud without festival activities, but that is also not characterizable as quiet. The study supports reframing debates about noise control and noise management of festival areas to also consider the sounds of such areas when festival sounds are not present.
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