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Accommodate ag industry in noise/nuisance bylaw

By Ross Lees
While Prince Edward County council struggles to word its  nuisance and noise bylaw correctly, the Prince Edward Federation of Agriculture (PEFA) says the needs of the agricultural industry need to be considered.
Lynn Leavitt, representing PEFA at Tuesday night’s council meeting, said if changes were required in the nuisance and noise bylaw “…the needs of the agricultural industry must be accommodated.
“We think that exemption “(e) the activities are part of a normal farm practice and carried on as part of an agricultural operation” is not relevant as this exemption already applies to municipal noise bylaws, even without mention. It is important to identify a list of exemptions as members of the public may not be aware of what is normal in this area. This could result in an excessive number of complaints going to mediation or to the normal farm practices protection board for a hearing if mediation is not successful. This imposes a counter productive cost on the farmers who must use time and money to defend their case.”
Leavitt went on to explain to council that it is sometimes necessary on a seasonal basis to operate equipment at any and all hours of the day in order to plant/harvest in the time allowed by the weather and the need to use sound environmental practices.
For those reasons, he argued the noise exemption needs to apply 24 hours per day for every day of the week.
“This is just recognition of the current reality, not a request for additional liberties with noise and nuisance,” he added.
Leavitt’s statement went on to note that agricultural exemptions need to apply to agri businesses plus agricultural operations as defined in the Farming and Food Protection Act. Exempted operations from noise and nuisance would include farming and road travel from a list he supplied plus any other operations as defined in the act.
The list supplied by the PEFA included soil tillage, planting, application of fertilizers, soil conditioners and pesticides, application of livestock manure, harvesting, crop drying and processing, crop irrigation, wind generation machines for frost protection, bird scare devices used in season during usual times required for effectiveness, refrigeration for perishable products, chain saw operations, farm building ventilation systems, emergency power generation, livestock and noises generated by milking and feeding procedures.
In a later discussion about the noise and nuisance bylaw, councillor Brian Marrisett wanted to bring the noise and nuisance bylaw back up for discussion because of a perceived urgency surrounding the bylaw and the recent court ruling, but others felt the process as currently established in which the chief building official was contacting other municipalities to see how their bylaws were working was the right process.
“Our chief building official is gathering information from other municipalities and I believe we should receive the benefit of that report before we refer this to another broader committee,” councillor Bev Campbell argued.
Councillor Kevin Gale agreed.
“I believe staff has a flavour for the concerns with this bylaw and we should give staff an opportunity to bring this back for public discussion,” Gale said.
Councillor Jamie Forrester added  public input was necessary to help council get this bylaw right.
Mayor Peter Mertens recommended waiting for the staff report, then addressing any additional concerns.
A motion to defer any immediate action was approved.

Filed Under: Local News

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