An anticipated rebate program has been launched for industrial equipment and commercial vehicles to replace tonal backup alarms will the newer and less annoying broadband "beepers."

It's the latest effort by the town to address a long-standing issue of how to reduce the noise disturbances caused by the vehicles in the community.

The rebate supports local businesses in purchasing and installing broadband-style alarms. Companies operating commercial supply delivery, snow removal, property maintenance, and construction equipment are encouraged to apply.

Those applying are required to provide proof of purchase and installation of broadband beepers through an application form available online. It's available for any company upgrading their vehicle or fleets to a broadband device in 2022.

The town set aside a maximum of $10,000 for the program in its 2022 budget after exploring the idea in 2021. Funding may continue in 2023, depending upon the results of town council's budget deliberations.

"It's a great opportunity to keep construction noise down, while still achieving the safety aspect required for all vehicles in the construction sector," says Mike Korman, interim director of Planning and Development Services.

He says the town has already converted its fleet to broadband alarms and wanted to provide the same opportunity to businesses to voluntarily switch over.

The program follows years nearly eight years of discussing the issue with town officials.

Frustrated by the noise pollution, Kevin Shier and other neighbours sought out a solution in 2014. The group’s search led them to ‘white noise’ broadband sound backup alarms, which replaces the ‘beep’ with a ‘shush’ sound. 

Besides the town, the use of broadband beepers was quickly embraced by Spray Lake Sawmills, All Span Building Systems, Cochrane Landscape Supply, and some others have followed.

A bylaw to ban the use of tonal alarms was sought but after an extensive review, it was deemed it impractical to implement, given the number of out-of-town vehicles working in the community.

It returned to town council several times until a proposal to implement a voluntary program, supported by an incentive program, was agreed upon last July, and included in the 2022 budget.

"It's been a little delayed in getting it going, but we hope to have some success through this year and then we've actually asked council for money in the budget to do it for 2023 as well."

Korman says he has been told people have become accustomed to the 'beeps' of tonal backup alarms and the switch to the 'shush' could improve safety around the vehicles.

"I've heard that is a benefit but certainly, that's unscientific at the moment. Still, I believe it's a good change for Cochrane because it helps us have quiet neighborhoods and reduces noise pollution."