The Blue Mountains will not extend a noise bylaw exemption for Astec because the company didn’t need one in the first place.

At its committee of the whole meeting on June 26, council voted in favour of a staff report advising that a noise bylaw exemption is not required for Astec since it is zoned industrial. The report and subsequent discussion consumed a significant portion of the afternoon session of the meeting.

The staff report on the matter revealed that the town recently obtained a legal opinion that says the noise bylaw does not apply to industrial properties like Astec.

The opinion received from outside legal counsel states: “It is my opinion that the town’s bylaw ought to be interpreted as exempting any noise or sound related to the non-residential use of land where that non-residential use of land is permitted under the town’s zoning bylaw (or by the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act). Further, and for clarity, the exemption does not require that a noise or sound exemption itself be specifically written into the zoning bylaw or act, as the case may be.”

Over the past two years, the town has been caught in the middle between Astec, a significant employer and long-time manufacturer in the community, and neighbouring property owners, who say noise from the industrial activities at the Astec property are disrupting their neighbourhood and the enjoyment of their properties.

The ongoing dispute was again in front of council at the meeting. Three neighbouring property owners, Lynn KeaysAlexandra Hall and Cim Nunn, made presentations to council about the noise issues. Astec representative Brad Forrest also appeared as a delegation to outline the steps it has taken, including spending or planning to spend more than $880,000, to mitigate noise impacts of its operations on neighbours.

At the end of the day, the bottom line was that the town’s noise regulations don’t apply to the Astec property. It is governed by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Park’s (MECP) rules on industrial noise emissions.

“The town’s noise bylaw does not apply to this property,” said Ryan Gibbons, the town’s director of community services.

In the report, town staff said they have been advised by MECP: “that the acoustic engineer reports have deemed Astec to fall within the allowable limits of noise decibels.”

Director of Operations Shawn Carey said neighbours concerned about the noise can contact MECP directly.

“They have equipment. They have expertise. That’s their role,” he said.

Town staff said the noise bylaw is dated – it was implemented in 2002 – and could use a refresh. Council passed a resolution accepting staff’s report on the matter, but also requested a subsequent report with more information about implementing a new and updated noise bylaw for the community.

Coun. Paula Hopes called the noise bylaw “the central issue.”

“This is going to go on and on and on until we find a solution,” Hope said of the Astec/neighbourhood issue.

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 27, 2023 at 06:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Collingwood, Ontario
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