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Sunday, March 3, 2024
Council lets controversial AC unit stay near homes

St. David’s Cold Storage’s controversial air-conditioning unit has been approved by NOTL council.

Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors okayed allowing the industrial air-conditioning unit to remain outside the facility despite complaints from neighbours.

The AC unit, located on the east side of the mammoth building at 365 Four Mile Creek Rd., has been causing noise and vibration issues to Cannery Park residents since its installation in August 2018. The unit was not there when most of the neighbours moved in and it was installed without municipal approval.

At the council meeting Monday, Coun. Norm Arsenault said town has a site plan process in place for a reason and the situation is becoming “carte blanche” with some people opting to ignore it.

“What is the purpose of having a site plan if every time that site plan is violated?” he asked councillors. “Is that really the way we want to do things in this town? I don’t think it’s the right way. It was done illegally.”

At this point, Lord Mayor Betty Disero asked Arsenault to watch his language and asked him to apologize for saying it was done illegally.

Arsenault apologized for using the word “illegally” and said it was done “without permission.”

Storage owner Alfred Dyck and his lawyer Sara Premi appeared before council Monday presenting a new report showing the mitigation measures the company took to deal with the complaints.

According to the study done by Valcoustics Canada Ltd. for the cold storage company, the sound level for the rear yard should be 50 decibels during the daytime and 45 during the evening. The study, dated Nov. 7, shows the sound level from the condenser was 39.8 decibels, which is below the provincial environmental guideline limit at the property line.

“This is a site plan approval application. This is a planning issue and I would ask if you could review this from a planning perspective,” Premi told councillors.

Since the installation of two other cooling units on the south side in 2010, there have been no complaints from residents, Dyck added.

Town councillors were voting on a staff report recommending approving site plan amendments and allowing the unit to remain outside the storage building.

Coun. Allan Bisback, who has been against the existing unit remaining at its current location, made a motion to amend the report and order the AC unit be moved to the southwest side of the facility or onto the roof of a newly constructed building within six months, that all noise attenuation recommendations be implemented and that all future condensers be restricted to the southwest side or on the roof.

At the last council meeting on Oct. 21 Premi has indicated the roof cannot support the condenser unit.

Out of nine councillors, three voted in favour of Bisback’s amendment: Disero, Arsenault and Bisback. 

Other councillors, including Clare Cameron and Wendy Cheropita, noted a similar amendment had already been put forward by Bisback at the committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 7, and it was voted down.

Cameron said she was satisfied with the noise reports and that the storage owner has gone “above and beyond” what he needed to do.

Coun. Gary Burroughs noted moving the unit won’t do anything but affect the neighbours around the corner and he believes the sound has been mitigated, while Coun. Stuart McCormack said he sympathizes with residents but said the company has taken appropriate measures.

“With the respect to the placement of the product, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to request permission. And I don’t think it’s the message we want to send to the community,” Stuart said.

Coun. Erwin Wiens said it’s not uncommon for site plans to have amendments as businesses grow.

“We’ve used words like illegal, like bad behaviour. We’ve used everything to run this guy down and he’s a good person who made a mistake,” Wiens said.

Since Bisback’s amendment was defeated, the motion to approve the original staff report with no amendments was passed. Bisback and Arsenault voted against it.

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