By Chad Ingram
Staff for the Municipality of Dysart et al will create a new bylaw dealing with the mitigation of fireworks and a separate noise bylaw both of which will come before councillors for their consideration.
Dysart et al councillors had continued conversations about the municipality’s noise bylaw during a March 26 meeting after requesting a review of that bylaw be completed by staff.
Currently the only restriction on fireworks in the municipality’s noise bylaw is that they not be set off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The noise bylaw as it stands is quite vague.
“We did take a look at it” chief building official Karl Korpela told council. “The bylaw is not really enforceable as it currently sits. It’s too vague.”
A staff report from Korpela and bylaw officer Kristin Boylan included a number of provisions that could be included in a new noise bylaw.
A general provision reads as follows: “No person shall make cause or permit an unreasonable noise or noise that is likely to disturb any person where the noise is clearly audible at the point of reception.”
A number of other potential provisions essentially subsections of the main provision deal specifically with construction noise music and so on.
One potential subsection caused a considerable consternation for Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy a provision dealing with the discharge of firearms other than for the purpose of hunting.
“The discharge of firearms other than for the purpose of hunting? So now we’re not going to allow anybody to do any target-shooting or sighting of rifles in a rural area?” Kennedy said adding that the municipality already has a separate bylaw dealing with the discharge of firearms.
“It has been something … there have been complaints on” Boylan said. “There’s a difference between target shooting on a consistent basis … again it’s a loud bang it’s similar to people letting off fireworks so it does affect neighbouring properties it affects animals. So there are complaints we get sometimes based off of target practice and target shooting.”
“So I own 110 acres you’re not going to allow me to discharge my firearm other than if I’m hunting?” Kennedy asked. “Because that’s what this says.”
Boylan said the bylaw would not be prohibiting target shooting just the sound if it was excessive.
“It’s about the cause of the sound so that’s what we would be regulating we’d be regulating the sound” Boylan said.
She said that the bylaw is not saying firearms can’t be discharged. However it would allow bylaw staff to go to the point of reception i.e. a neighbour’s property and listen to the sound while it was being made to determine if the sound is excessive.
“It’s at the point of perception” said Mayor Andrea Roberts. “So say you have a neighbour that’s sitting on their back deck and the noise is so loud that they can’t enjoy their property.”
Roberts said if target shooting was taking place on a large rural property it was unlikely the sound would disturb neighbours.
“All you can hear is a pop” she said.
“I will go on record voting no if we get to that point” Kennedy said.
“We’re rural Ontario and firearms are a critical part of living in rural Ontario and whether you believe in them or not is irrelevant” Kennedy continued. “This is infringing on my rights as well as somebody else’s.”
“We’re not prohibiting the activity we’re regulating the noise coming from it” Boylan reiterated. “It has to be proven. That’s why I go out and that’s why the investigations happen because it could be that there is no violation when I get there.”
Roberts said she would be amenable to not including that provision.
“Hold on now” said Councillor Larry Clarke. “A lot of this comes back to having some common sense and respect for your neighbours. We’re members of a community we’re not living 50 miles from any civilization so there’s got to be some responsibility or some respect for the people who live next door too.”
“I just don’t like the language that’s in there” Kennedy said.
“It’s not the activity that we’re prohibiting it’s the noise that we’re prohibiting” Korpela said.
“If you’re prohibiting the noise you’re prohibiting the activity” Kennedy continued. “Anyway … I will ensure there’s a delegation at the next council meeting.”
Roberts said again that she was comfortable taking the provision out since it was just a subsection of the main provision prohibiting all excessive disruptive noise.
“I’m looking for a lot more restrictions regarding fireworks” said Councillor John Smith adding it wasn’t just the noise associated with fireworks that is problematic but also the heavy metals and toxins they put into the air and water. “When are people going to accept these things are harming our environment?”
Smith who’d previously mused about an all-out ban on fireworks in the municipality said he’d at least like to see their use restricted to certain weekends of the year.
“The noise bylaw is there only to regulate noise” Korpela said adding a bylaw to regulate fireworks would be a separate bylaw.
“That was my understanding . . . that we would want to see a separate fireworks bylaw” said Roberts.
It seemed likely that a draft fireworks bylaw would be based on that of Minden Hills which limits the discharge of fireworks to a few major holiday weekends of the year carries a $500 fine and also requires vendors to post a notice about the fireworks bylaw near their displays.
Both bylaws will come back to the council table for consideration.