For the second straight year, a noise bylaw exemption request from Thornbury manufacturer Breaker Technology/Astec has caused plenty of public opposition.
The Blue Mountains council dealt with the company’s request for an exemption to the noise bylaw at its meeting on May 8. The issue dominated the afternoon session of council with seven delegations and many more public comments submitted to the clerk’s department on the issue.
Astec was seeking an exemption to the town’s noise bylaw to allow it to operate its manufacturing plant from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday. The bylaw does not allow construction-related noise between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Ultimately, council voted 5-1 in favour of a temporary extension of the exemption from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (a two-hour reduction of the exemption) Council also directed staff to work with Astec on noise mitigation efforts and to meet with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks about options. Coun. June Porter opposed the resolution and Coun. Alex Maxwell declared a conflict on the matter.
Town staff will report back to council in early July with options for moving forward.
Company representative Brade Forrest appeared as a delegation to request the exemption. Town council had granted a previous exemption to the company a year earlier. That exemption was opposed by many neighbours and council granted it with the conditions that the company create a community liaison committee to discuss noise issues and that noise monitoring equipment be installed at the plant.
In his presentation, Forrest outlined a number of steps Astec has taken over the past year to try and address the concerns of the neighbours. You can read his full presentation at: https://pub-bluemountains.escribemeetings.com/FileStream.ashx?DocumentId=16537
“We also have no intention to foster bad relations with our neighbours. In fact, we are committed and will continue to make improvements to the facility, as demonstrated, to minimize any impact we have on them,” said Forrest. “We also plan to continue our neighbourhood engagement committee meetings to hear their concerns and keep them abreast of activities on site.”
The company’s request was greeted by heavy opposition from the neighbours.
“You have a bylaw for a reason. I’m asking you to direct Astec to abide by it,” said local resident Cim Nunn.
Multiple neighbouring property owners told council about ongoing noise issues from the Astec plant and said the complaints to the town’s bylaw enforcement office had gone nowhere. Neighbours also said their experience with the liaison committee had been frustrating and that the noise monitoring equipment installed by the company had not yielded any useful data.
“The town and council have a responsibility to uphold this bylaw and protect the quality of life of the residents in the community and ensure a balanced approach for all those that reside or work in the community,” said Dan Genge.
Presentations from the neighbours who spoke to council about the exemption request can be found on the agenda for the meeting here: https://pub-bluemountains.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=d8fbe65e-0338-4030-8260-e68ab4715c62&Agenda=Merged&lang=English
Members of council wanted to see something done to satisfy the neighbours of the Astec plant.
“Quite frankly, you’ve had a long time,” Coun. Shawn McKinlay told Forrest. “Your neighbours are tired and they’re frustrated.”
Porter was not happy with the exemption being allowed to 9 p.m.
“My concern is Astec has had a year. We’re here again. They’re here again,” said Porter. “I’m not convinced there is a sense of urgency.”
By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on May 10, 2023 at 11:00