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Dec. 8, 2019 | Sunday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Vineyard cannons now silent, but noise bylaw should ban bird bangers
File photo.

Dear editor:

For the third year now, residents of York Road have had to endure a travesty imposed upon us by Baker Estate Vineyards’ use of propane-fired cannons.

Finally, on Nov. 6, the guns fell silent after 81 continuous days of explosive noise every few minutes from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. It has given new meaning to the novel I once read by E.M. Remarque, “ All Quiet on the Western Front.”

Non-farming residents living in the Escarpment bench neighbourhoods of Sheppard Crescent, York Road between Queenston and St. Davids, Sandalwood Crescent, north Tanbark Road and Stoneridge Crescent, and in rural areas, take note: Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Deputy Lord Mayor Clare Cameron have shown no interest whatsoever and have not advocated on your behalf, at either the municipal or provincial level, with regard to growers’ use of sonic explosive devices and the negative impact they have on all living things within hearing range.

Cameron also was opposed to including a review of the use of propane-fired cannons in the current noise control bylaw review. It was conveniently stated by her to not be in the mandate for discussion.

Coun. Erwin Wiens also voted against including cannons in the review, but he has told me he uses cannons in some of his vineyards. Surprisingly, he did not declare a conflict of interest before the vote.

To the non-farming residents who have worked or are working in different kinds of jobs, because we are not growers, we are being treated like second-class citizens.

Our rights are being violated with impunity. It would be interesting to know how much revenue we contribute to the region and the town in our taxes and how much the growers contribute. My guess would be most of their revenue comes from the residential non-agricultural tax base.

To the non-farming residents living in those areas and being impacted by cannon use, I would like to make the following suggestion: MPAC will be mailing out your property assessment notices again in 2020. I would suggest that you file a Request for Reconsideration of your assessment based on your loss of quiet enjoyment of your property for the three months or length of time that it occurred.

You have been robbed of one-quarter of the year’s enjoyment of your property. Real estate assessments may be required to show that our properties have been devalued by the length of time the explosive noise occurs, and the close proximity of their cannons to our residential areas.

The Request for Reconsideration is a required step before becoming eligible to file an appeal with the Assessment Review Board. There is a $65 fee to appeal.

With reference to the town, it has failed to respect the preamble mission statements of the noise control bylaw of 2012. And no doubt as a result of the lobbying efforts of the growers who sat on the agricultural (advisory) committee during that time period, we see the placement of anything regarded as a “normal?” farm practice being included in the bylaw’s Schedule A of Permitted Noise (including propane cannon use).

Under the provisions of the Municipal Act, the town does not have to voluntarily accept so called “normal” farm practices as determined by a board of about eight farmers and three lawyers for 2019.

The town could amend the bylaw, remove sonic device use from Schedule A, and ban their use in this jurisdiction.

Any grower wanting to use a cannon would then have to apply to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board for a hearing to overrule the municipal bylaw in a site-specific manner.

Jim and Irene Fisher

Queenston

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